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. 

5 Ways to Turn Your Divorce Case Into a Train Wreck

Divorce Case

There are plenty of opportunities for divorcing spouses to make a mess out of everything during a divorce case. In this article, I’ll tell you about five things that will turn your divorce case into a train wreck.

Divorce is tough. It’s emotional. Your soon to be ex-spouse may also be a complete bag of (insert preferred expletive). Maybe they’re so bad that you’re considering doing whatever you can to stick it to him/her during your divorce case out of spite.

Maybe spousal retribution isn’t your goal, but you’re just so emotional about the ordeal, you don’t know

I’ve seen clients employ these five tactics with great success… if your goal is screwing up your divorce. Read on and learn the secrets so you too can turn your divorce case into a train wreck, or avoid it (the preferable goal).*


1. Listen to everyone but your lawyer.

divorce case

If you really want to make sure your divorce is a gruesome train wreck, be sure to listen to everyone except your attorney.

Base your expectations for your case on what everyone but your lawyer says will or should happen in your divorce. Do this regardless of whether these people are Omaha family law attorneys familiar with the facts of your case, or laypeople who watched that Divorce Court TV show a time or two.

Pay attention to what your friend got in their divorce, or what you heard your friend’s friend got in theirs. Even if their circumstances are completely different from yours.

Set unrealistic goals based on the unrealistic expectations you’ve made… no matter what your lawyer says.*


2. Use your kids as a weapon.

divorce case

Use your kids to make your spouse suffer. Tell your kids what a giant bag of monkey turds their other parent is. (Double bonus if you can actually make your kids dislike the other parent and refuse to spend parenting time with them.)

Sure the judge may not like it, and it’ll probably eventually backfire on your and end up damaging your kids, but just think of how ticked your spouse will be in the meantime.

Also consider teaching your kids to spy on your ex and tell you everything. It just makes sense. They work cheap, they’re small, and can easily go unnoticed.

Psychology experts would poo-poo all of these ideas. Remember, though, they would be concerned with your child’s best interests. All you care about is wrecking your divorce, no matter the impact on your kids.*


3. Order or suggestion? You decide.

divorce case

If you don’t like the judge’s Order, do what you want. The Order is probably just a guideline or a suggestion anyway. It’s not like it’s a Court Order…

Wait — uhh, well. I guess it is a Court Order. But still.

Your lawyer might say fancy words like “willful disobedience,” “show case” and “contempt.” The important thing here is making your spouse suffer and making yourself feel good for a little while. (Plus, your friend Larry says your lawyer is wrong.)*


4. Make a scene on social media.

divorce case

The more photographic evidence of your inappropriate behavior you post on social media, the better to irritate your spouse with. It’ll show them you’ve moved on. If your child’s a social media connection, make sure they also see the post and point it out to your spouse.

Social media is also a great place to publicly embarrass your spouse by airing your grievances and/or posting private things about them. Who cares if it does long-term damage to your ability to work with your spouse to parent your kids. This is about short-term revenge.*


5. Freak out.

divorce case

If your spouse says things like, “I’m going to get full custody,” or, “I’m taking you to the cleaners,” believe them. Freak out every time they say something l like that. It will wreck your divorce case really well.

Although probably lacking a law degree, your spouse is likely psychic or knows something you don’t. Also, your spouse’s lawyer is presumably awesome and your lawyer is, in all likelihood, a clown — just like your spouse keeps telling you.

The ideal reaction is to freak out. A lot. Really flip out. Lose sleep, don’t eat, and be sure to tell your kids all about it (refer back to number two). Ultimately, your goal is to dance like a marionette every time your spouse pulls your strings.

Also, habitually call or email your lawyer to report your spouse’s prophecies. Ask your lawyer for a detailed plan regarding how they intend to stop each and every one of your spouse’s predictions from coming to fruition. Not only will this help screw up your divorce, it will also make your legal bills skyrocket.*


divorce case

Hightower Reff Law doesn’t endorse any of these, and strongly suggests you do the opposite.


Consider keeping your nose on your face instead. 

Doing any or all of these things is likely to make your divorce case take longer and cost both you and your spouse more. More in financial and emotional resources.

If you choose to turn your divorce case into a train wreck instead of behaving prudently, you’ll also have to wait longer before you can move on with life.

Notice that I’m talking about you, not your spouse? If making the divorce tougher to spite your spouse is your goal, you may accomplish it. However, you’re also quite likely to cut off your own nose to spite your face.

Consider as well that acting in these ways is likely to harm your credibility with the court. Bad behavior that calls into question your parental judgment or fitness could also negatively affect your child custody case.  Moreover, in some circumstances, the court could sanction you for contempt of court. (Your friend Larry is wrong.)

At any rate, if you act badly during your divorce case, you’ll cause major collateral damage. The victims likely to be hurt most… your children.


*Hightower Reff Law doesn’t endorse train wrecks.

As you may have gathered, Hightower Reff Law doesn’t endorse these ill-advised spite tactics or purposefully turning your divorce into a train wreck in any way. We strongly suggest you not try these five ways to turn your divorce case into a train wreck, or any others.

These kinds of bad behaviors are very likely to harm the outcome of your divorce case and/or damage your family relationships. Most concerning, some of these emotionally driven, poor choices hurt children.

I hope this information will help readers avoid these mistakes. The client who makes well reasoned, rational choices, instead of emotional poor choices can be at peace, knowing their family relationships and children won’t suffer avoidable negative consequences.

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.  

Author, Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Susan Reff, is a well respected Omaha, Nebraska family law and criminal law attorney with more than fifteen years of law practice experience. For more about Susan, visit her profile page.

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

Nebraska Alimony – What you Need to Know (Infographic)

Nebraska Alimony - What you Need to KnowIf you’re thinking of divorce, you may also be wondering about Nebraska alimony (also known as spousal support).

Regardless of whether you think you may end up as the payor or the payee, you should know something about Nebraska alimony before you make decisions about your case.

Hightower Reff Law is a team of confident, clear, committed attorneys representing clients in the Omaha metro and surrounding areas in family law and criminal defense/dui.

The spousal support conversation is an important talk to have with an attorney who’s experienced in Nebraska family law. This article and infographic will give you some basics that will help you have a more productive conversation with that attorney.

In our many years practicing Nebraska family law in at Hightower Reff Law in Omaha, we’ve learned that the more information clients have, the more clear and confident they are about their case, and the decisions they make.

When it comes to Nebraska Alimony, there are some things you may be surprised to learn.

The alimony of yesteryear

If you’re a little older, and someone you knew many years ago divorced, you may have heard it mentioned that the husband was ordered to continue supporting the wife “in the manner to which she’s become accustomed.” That may be the way many courts approached alimony in days of yesteryear, but it’s not the way spousal support goes in Nebraska today.

The times they have a changed

In the majority of cases, Nebraska courts don’t award alimony. If they do, it’s for a short time – long enough for the spouse receiving support to get training or education or find a job. It’s sometimes called “rehabilitative spousal support.”

Nebraska courts usually consider several factors when deciding spousal support – as explained in the infographic below. The court also considers the relative economic circumstances of both parties in its alimony decisions.



In cases where there is child support, that will be determined first, and then the amount of spousal support will be decided based on each party’s income and expenses after child support is paid.

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 details about the author, Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower, visit her profile page

Our additional resources on marital property division are available  here

If you need help with a Nebraska divorcecontact Hightower Reff Law today and come visit one of the attorneys at the Omaha office.