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Preparing for a divorce court appearance

Despite the fact that the divorce rate is high in Tennessee and across the country, few people appearing before a family court judge have had previous experience in such a setting. The procedure is quite different from the dramas of television and movies, and although a judge may understand that the participants are unfamiliar with what is expected of them, he or she likely won't have the time or patience to tutor the couples on proper courtroom decorum. It will help couples heading to divorce court to understand some basic expectations.

A great deal is riding on this one appearance before a judge. Decisions will be made that affect the lives of the participants for years to come. Although the situation may be new, and one may feel anxious, it is important for participants to remain calm and present a good first appearance. One way to alleviate much anxiety is to arrive on time. Showing up late for anything places one in an awkward and frenzied state, so experts recommend knowing the location of the courthouse ahead of time and arriving well before the scheduled appearance.

Having a skilled lawyer will make all the difference because he or she can preview what to expect in the courtroom. In addition to suggesting appropriate dress and appearance, the attorney will likely remind the client what documents will be needed and how to respond respectfully anytime the judge or opposing counsel addresses him or her. It is recommended that participants allow the attorney to speak for them and remain silent unless directly questioned by the judge or an attorney.

It may seem like a Tennessee divorce court is the place to let out all one's grievances and to inform the judge of a spouse's every negative behavior that led to this moment. However, remaining calm and respectful is essential and may gain more for a client than uncontrolled emotional outbursts. In most situations, heeding the advice of one's attorney is the safest choice.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Getting Divorced? 10 Things You Should Do If You're Going to Court", Vikki Ziegler, Nov. 27, 2017

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