Prepping for Your Divorce Trial: Top 5 Tips (From a Divorce Lawyer)

divorce trial

What You Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial That Your Lawyer May Not Tell You, Part III

Walking into a courtroom for your divorce trial can be daunting, especially if you don’t know what to expect.

In this third and final installment of our series “What You Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial That Your Lawyer May Not Tell You,” Hightower Reff Law partner attorney Tracy Hightower shares her top 5 tips so you can prep for your divorce trial.


In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” At Hightower Reff law, we believe helping our clients prepare for their divorce trial is one of our most important functions as divorce lawyers. Over the years as an Omaha divorce lawyer, I’ve found there are lots of things clients can do to improve their chances of reaching their goals. Now I’m sharing with you my top five tips for prepping for your divorce trial.

 

1. Block your calendar.

Plan to devote the day to your divorce trial, including:

  • Make plans in advance to take time off from work
  • Be proactive — ask your attorney if they need time to meet with you before the trial day to prepare you for your testimony or other things
  • Don’t be surprised if the original trial date gets continued (moved to another day) at the last minute, or if you don’t finish in one day

 

2. Prep for live testimony.

Witnesses for you or for your spouse will testify in person before the judge. You and your spouse will likely testify as well.

  • In “temporary” hearings you may have had during your divorce pre-trial motions, your lawyer probably presented evidence on your behalf by affidavit. That’s a written document, signed under oath. Trials are different.
  • At trial, witnesses testify in person. Affidavits aren’t allowed.

 

3. Your lawyer may not call all the witnesses you want — and that’s okay.

Your lawyer will only call the best witnesses. That almost always means witnesses with firsthand, personal knowledge.

  • In a nutshell, your witness must have firsthand, personal knowledge to testify. They can’t testify about out of court statements of others, or information they got from another person.
  • The most basic first step in determining if a testimony from a witness may be hearsay is to figure out whether the witness was the originator of the information. If not, it’s probably hearsay.
  • For example, your mom can’t testify about your pediatrician’s opinion that your son’s asthma is aggravated during visits to the other parent’s house.
  • There are other things that go into a hearsay determination, and it can get complicated.
  • Tell your attorney about the possible witnesses you believe may have personal knowledge relevant to the issues of your divorce. It’s their job to figure out who’s to testify at trial.

 

4. Dress your best.

The impression you make on the court is important. Appearance and grooming are key.

  • Your lawyer won’t come to court in jeans or a team sweatshirt. They dress to show respect for the court and to present a professional image for their clients and for themselves. If you do the same on trial day, you can’t go wrong.
  • The court will be assessing your credibility and perhaps your fitness as a parent. Making a good first impression by dressing appropriately and respectfully can only help boost your credibility.

 

5.  Control your face.

No matter what unbelievably shocking stupidity comes out of your spouse’s mouth, try to keep a straight face.

  • If you roll your eyes or make weird faces, the judge will see it. Most times, that isn’t a good thing. As hard as it may be, try to keep a neutral face — or at least not look like this (or anything close.)
  • Crying is okay. Divorces are emotional. The judge understands. You can be authentically emotional in court, you just can’t be rude or out of control. If you feel you need a few minutes, let your attorney know.

If you have questions before your divorce trial, don’t be afraid to ask your divorce attorney. They are there to support you through the process.

If you missed Part I of the series, read it here.

Catch up with Part II here.


This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.


 For More Information:

Learn more about Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower.

Find out more about Hightower Reff’s family law services.

If you need help with a Nebraska divorce or other family law case, contact Hightower Reff Law today and come visit with one of the attorneys at the Omaha office. 

What You Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial that Your Lawyer May Not Tell You – Part I, Has my Lawyer Fallen from the End of the Earth?

What you need to know about your divorce trial

Divorce trials are strange, unfamiliar things to most people. You can feel like you’re in the dark. If your divorce attorney doesn’t do a good job being clear with you, that feeling of being in the dark can turn to mistrust of your lawyer, insecurity, and fear. In this series, What you Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial That Your Lawyer May Not Tell You, I’ll shed some light on your divorce trial.

In this first installment, Has My Lawyer Fallen from the End of the Earth? I’ll explain why your lawyer’s seeming disappearance before trial isn’t a sign he or she has met a bizarre end or doesn’t care about your case. (So hold off on emailing tabloid websites with your proof the world is flat because your lawyer just fell off the edge of it.)

Pre-trial pre-production for your divorce trial

Before any organized presentation, there’s a lot of preparation. That prep is crucial to make sure the presentation is smooth and coherent, and as well thought out as possible. Think of it as pre-production.

Divorce trials are no different. They require a LOT of pre-production. A well prepared attorney generally spends four to five hours of preparation time for every hour they’ll spend in court.

How is that possible? A divorce attorney preparing for a divorce trial or other family law trial has a lot to do.

 

 

 

Not proof the world is flat 

Your attorney has a lot on their plate when preparing for your divorce or other family law trial. During the busiest parts of that trial preparation, they may rely on another attorney in the firm, a law clerk, or assistant to help support you. Those trusted members of your divorce team may support you through any questions or issues come up.  If that happens, don’t take it personally; your attorney isn’t blowing you off. They haven’t fallen from the edge of a flat earth, and they certainly haven’t stopped caring about the outcome of your case. It’s quite the opposite.

Your attorney cares so much that they are directing the lion’s share of their time and attention to preparing for your trial. They want to be as prepared as possible for your divorce trial so they can do what you hired them to do: get you the best result they are able to achieve.

Many attorneys miss out on time with their families, other personal events and interests, and even needed rest because they become incredibly focused on preparing for your trial so they can do a good job for you.

An alternative to the tribulations of a divorce trial 

If a divorce trial sounds like it’s not for your circumstance, there’s an alternative: collaborative divorce.  Not every attorney is trained in this amicable divorce option. Also, it’s not appropriate for every case.

At Hightower Reff Law, however, (as well as practicing in traditional adversarial divorce) attorney Scott Hahn and I are both certified collaborative divorce attorneys.

In a nutshell, in collaborative divorce, you and your spouse work with a team of professionals to come up with an agreement to submit to the court. That agreement will become your final Divorce Decree. There’ll be some court involvement to get everything finalized. However, collaborative divorce is usually easier in the end, in part because you have everything agreed upon ahead of time instead of “duking it out” at trial.

There’s more info on collaborative divorce available on the Hightower Reff blog and website.

Next time in the series, What You Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial That Your Lawyer May Not Tell You

Next time in the series What you Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial that Your Lawyer May Not Tell You, I’ll share some ideas on what YOU can do to prepare for your trial to help increase your chances of success.

 

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 


For More Information:

Learn more about Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower.

Find out more about Hightower Reff’s family law services.

 

If you need help with a Nebraska divorce or other family law case, contact Hightower Reff Law today and come visit with one of the attorneys at the Omaha office.