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Divorce court tips: How to act before and during a hearing

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For better or worse, divorce is one of the biggest moments in a person's life. Given the consequences and the emotions underlying it, Illinoisans are often feeling raw nerves during the process. That can mean not always acting in a positive manner in court. However, it is important to leave a good impression because the judge has few opportunities to meet parties personally. During those opportunities, the judge is evaluating both parties' credibility, which shades how the court will view the parties' claims and ultimately how the court will rule on them. Fortunately, by following a few tips, Illinoisans can have a better chance to leave a good impression with the court.

First, get there early. Arrive at least 15 minutes (preferably more) before the scheduled court appearance. By budgeting extra time, Illinoisans can minimize the stress of worrying about getting to court on-time. It also gives time in case surprise delays pop up, such as bad traffic, parking troubles, or long lines at security.

Second, wear the right kind of clothes. Clothes are the very first thing the judge will notice, and it makes sense to make that impression a good one. Dressing in a neat, professional manner is the best way to avoid problems.

Third, turn off your phone. If it goes off in court, the judge will be annoyed and a court officer will likely take it. That is a steep price to pay, so keep it turned it off.

Fourth, stay composed. In other words, stay quiet and keep a straight face when the other side is talking. Both sides will get a chance to talk. Plus, the other side may say controversial things in an attempt to provoke. Don't rise to the bait. It will only hurt your credibility.

And, finally, treat the court staff courteously. They administer the court and have access to the judge. Turn them into allies, not enemies. It will pay dividends.

Source: Huffington Post, "How To Behave In Court: 9 Tips to a Successful Divorce," Daniel Clement, Nov. 14, 2013

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