[S]o let’s get this straight. A person you barely know (judge), is going to make life-changing decisions for you, and your child. How much visitation you get, whether or not you get custody, and how much child support you will pay will be determined by this person.
Great. No pressure here.
Of course, you must prepare for the initial meeting, and you can’t be careless or neglectful. Review 7 Courtesy Tips When Talking to a Judge. Stay alert, and make sure you have covered as many holes as you can. While it’s almost impossible to know every issue that may arise, here are five tips to help you prepare for that first meeting in front of your judge:
Five Tips to Mean Business in Front of Your Judge
1. Read your mail. You will probably be overwhelmed with legal information, making it easy to ignore your mail. But read every letter or e-mail from the court, your attorney, or your Ex’s attorney. Afterward, set it aside, then read it again later in the day. That will decrease the chance you have misread something, or allowed emotions to overtake common sense. Also, when you are required to take action, do so in a timely manner, and make sure you complete all promised follow-ups.
2. Be honest with the courts. Under reporting income in an attempt to manipulate potential child support payments will reflect poorly on you in front of your judge.
3. Arrive to your court proceeding on time. Don’t blame traffic for being late. Arrive early, get accustomed to your surroundings, and stay focused on your case, not on regretting starting your day late.
4. Stay on topic. If your hearing is about child support, avoid getting caught up in issues about custody or visitation arrangements. The judge has no authority to make those decisions at this time, so don’t bring it up.
5. Maintain realistic expectations. The court will determine decisions based on all of the information supplied by you and your Ex, as well as your state’s guidelines.
If you suspect your Ex is being untruthful about anything, say so. The court will establish custody based on what they believe is in the children’s best interest, based on personal history, education and other factors.
Deal cordially with everyone coming in and out of court. You Never Know Who’s Watching. Above all, be honest in your dealings with ‘the stranger’ who will make the determinations on much of your future. To do otherwise is not acting in your best interest. And if you don’t, who will?
What would you add when faced with a judge?
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