When seeking a divorce, be it in Portland, Oregon, Clark County, Washington or beyond, both parties want to come out with the best outcome possible. In many cases the parties are able to negotiate a settlement either through an uncontested divorce, a contested, but peaceful divorce, or through working hard to keep the divorce proceedings in negotiation rather than finalizing the divorce in court. In any of these cases it is important to keep in mind that there is a possibility of a divorce trial and therefore we have these suggestions for success.
1. Plan your evidence early when preparing for a divorce trial.
Most litigants, even their attorneys, take a very “fly by night” cavalier approach to preparing for trial. They often wait until the last minute, then try to scramble and put the case together when settlement falls apart. This often results in the party’s to the case not having the documents they need ready at trial, or else the documents are not organized into a clear presentation to the judge. By planning out your case months in advance, you will be sure to have plenty of time to get documents to fill the holes in your presentation.
2. Make yourself look good before and during your divorce trial.
This doesn’t mean dress nicely, although that certainly is a part of it. This means make sure your behavior for the months leading up to trial is going to put you in a good light. If you act like a jerk throughout the case, then the other side will have plenty of evidence available to show the judge what a jerk you are. Family law cases are often a race to make the judge like you, so you need to act appropriately in the months leading up to court. Everything you say to the other party, or a friend, or on social media such as Facebook, is something the judge can hear about.
3. Practice your testimony before your divorce case is presented in court.
Divorce court is a stressful environment. You have a lot riding on the outcome, and it can be intimidating even for professional witnesses to be on the stand. Often it is as important how you say things, as it is what words you use. If the judge can see you as calm and under control, they will likely find you more believable, and more trustworthy than if you break down crying or yell out of anger on the stand. While there is no way to eliminate the stress of testifying, by rehearsing with your attorney or friends ahead of time (even though it might feel awkward), it will go along way towards helping you be more relaxed when it comes time to finally testify on your own behalf.
4. Establish a good status quo for parenting time.
Often times, the decision of “what should the parenting plan be”, is answered by the question “what has the parenting plan been”. When people separate, they often don’t work hard enough to establish a healthy parenting plan for themselves early. They often agree to unfavorable plans, just to make it easy, with the hope they can convince a judge to change it later. This is backwards, as hard as it can be sometimes, if you want to have success at trial litigating parenting time issues, your chances of success go way up if you have established a positive status quo in your favor early in the proceedings.
5. Draft a really good trial memorandum.
In Oregon, each party is permitted the opportunity to file a trial memorandum, which is basically a free chance to make your whole case to the judge before she ever sees you. More often than judges would admit, these cases are won or lost by what is in your trial memorandum. Judge’s form early opinions, and often times a good memo can win you your case by forcing a settlement before anyone has to take the stand on the day of court.
While divorce is often a stressful situation, we hope that this guide will help to inform you about how to help your case be more successful in the even that you go to court. We have more articles concerning uncontested divorce, peaceful divorce, and negotiating a settlement. If you have further questions please contact Brasier Law at 1 (503) 855-4777 and told free at 1 (855) 328-9108 or through the form below.
You may find our series of articles guiding readers through the beginning stages of divorce to be helpful: