Most seasoned divorce attorneys observe common and avoidable mistakes parties make during divorce hearings (preliminary hearings or finals). Indiana has a strong and neutral judiciary. However, bad acts and these mistakes may factor into how a judges views a litigant as a parent. So try to avoid them.
The first is something relatively new: wireless devices. Sitting in a courtroom and having your cell phone ring is a violation of most written local court rules. And it sends a signal (or can) to the court that something is more important to you than your hearing. Normally, a divorce has the ability to impact you for the rest of your life in terms of property and child custody. Give it the attention it deserves and turn off your cell phone or leave it in the car. In some cases, a court will confiscate cell phone that interrupts the proceedings.
A close second is being late. There are tens of thousands of cases roughly 300 judges have to manage and hear in Indiana each year. Court time is valuable time the judge sets apart just for you and your case. In today’s world, most of the time being late can be handled by phone, text or email. Not a court appearance. Be there to give the court, parties, and counsel the serious attention your case deserves so you do not do anything to impact your case negatively.
The third and fourth mistakes directly relate to your case itself. In a domestic hearing sometimes the best and worst of the relationship is evidenced by the party’s testimony. Human nature and the stakes involved lead litigants to ignoring tough questions with an evasive or partial answer. This speaks directly to credibility and how you will be viewed by the court. Answer even hard questions directly and completely. Your attorney will “clean up” the rest of the story in later parts of your testimony.
Finally, one of the most harmful and disruptive aspects of some litigation is a party who constantly interrupts his/her attorney, the proceedings, by frantically making notes, making significant body language moves, or blurting out in court. This is detrimental to your case. The best way is to have a way to communicate with your attorney arranged in advance. This will allow key information to be shared between both without distracting the attorney from watching and listening to the judge or witness.
Individually, any one violation of these unwritten rules is unlikely to cause your case to be skewed to the court. However, a pattern during litigation can have profound negative consequences. Take care to avoid these pitfalls. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. This is for general educational purposes only and not specific legal advice or a solicitation for services. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle cases throughout Indiana.