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Going to court... what is the etiquette?

View profile for Mike Devlin
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Despite common belief, a good lawyer will attempt to assist you to settle your case without recourse to litigation. They are options that you can try such as mediation or old fashioned negotiation between lawyers. However, in some cases for various reasons those options fail and the only option is to go to court.

So what actually happens in court and how will you cope? I refer to a previous blog I wrote called “How to get the best from your lawyer”, being frank and honest is essential. A statement will have been filed at court setting out your case and so one of the first things to do is to make sure you have re-read your statement and reminded yourself of the facts. If you notice that something is not quite correct make sure you tell your lawyer even at a late stage. It is better to tell the court or other party of any error before they tell you about it. You should also read your former spouses evidence and point out any areas that you do not think are correct. This is so your advocate can question it and bring it to the attention of the Judge if appropriate.

So the day has arrived and what should you do? You need to dress smartly but in an appropriate manner. Once in court you are likely to be asked questions by your advocate and your former spouses advocate. Direct your answers to the Judge and make sure you speak clearly and slowly. The Judge will want to note your evidence. Answer the question directly and don’t argue with any of the advocates and certainly not the Judge. If you have an issue with any evidence tell your advocate. They will decide how to deal with the situation. They are experienced and that is what you are paying for.

Your advocate will refer to any statements you have filed but they may not refer to everything. However, the Judge will have seen and read your evidence before you go into court so do not think that it has not been taken into account just because you are not asked about it.

Do remember once your case has reached this stage the Judge is going to have to make a decision. One of you is not going to be happy with all or part of that decision. So before you get to this stage think about that and try and compromise if at all possible.

Remember a solution you reach with your former spouse is likely to be one you will be most happy with and one you have control of. Once you are in court it is out of your hands unless you are able to settle before the Judge has to make a ruling.

By family law solicitor and mediator, Gillian Davies

 

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