One: Dress and Behave to Impress
Make sure your clothing is short and/or sheer. If you're sexy, let it be known! You never know how far it might get you in the Court's eyes. Also, dressing like a slob can be helpful at times. If your clothes are dirty, torn and wrinkled, it will help the Court to see that clearly you do not have as much money as your ex and maybe they should be paying you more support, or lowering any support you might have been ordered to pay.
Make sure all of your body art is visible and you display all of your piercings. Oh and make sure you don't forget your hat and sunglasses. After all, your only there to ask a court to make a determination of what is best for your children, you're not in church.
And while we are on the issue of personal appearance, don't forget that body language is everything and is usually very helpful to the Court. If you cross your arms, the Court will be aware you are not pleased; roll your eyes and the Court will understand how utterly stupid your ex is being; laugh and shake your head while someone is talking and the Judge will see how ridiculous the comment being made is; and if you huff and throw your head back you will display to the Court that clearly the other side is lying and should not be trusted. A well placed arm thrown casually over the back of your chair and a leg crossed over your knee will also show the Judge that you are clearly right in this matter and have nothing to worry about!
Two: Assist Your Lawyer
If you have a lawyer at your side, don't forget to ignore any advice they might have given you. If they ask you a question quietly, make sure you say the first thing that pops into your head to the Judge directly. Tell your lawyer what they should say and remind them, especially when the Judge is speaking, what they should be focusing on.
Three: Speak Clearly
If the other parent or their attorney is making an incorrect statement, don't forget to tell the Judge that they are liars. If your ex is a F*(&%g Jerk, make sure the judge is aware of it. No need to beat around the bush, if your ex is a F*(&%g Jerk...say it! It is not as if the Court has never heard those words before, besides how would you pronounce F*(&%g? "Eff-en?"...Heck the Court might not know what you mean. Don't be shy, referring to your ex and/or their attorney with four-letter-words is a quick and expedient way to make everyone in the courtroom aware of the problems you face having to deal with these people.
Don't refer to the children as OUR children, they are not yours and the Judge's, so when speaking to the Court, always say MY son, MY daughter, MY kids. Besides, if you were to refer to them as OURS, it might look like you are willing to share and after all you want the Court to give you 100% custody, so concede to nothing! Although willingness to co-parent is a factor many Court's use to determine custody issues, it is not the only one, so why worry about it.
Finally, because you are no longer with your ex and haven't had a real good opportunity to talk to them lately, make sure you address all of your comments, curse words, and banter to your ex and not the Court. This way the Court will have a clear opportunity to see just how you two relate and once it becomes as clear to the Court as it is to you what an ass the other parent is, you will easily win your case.
Four: You are Perfect
Accept blame and responsibility for nothing. After all, the only reason you are in court in the first place is because no one gets the fact that they are YOUR kids and your ex should have no rights! And, despite the fact that you liked your children's other parent at some point (or at least for a few minutes), you don't like them now, they are not suitable and in hindsight, you realize they never were, and you are CLEARLY the only person capable of properly parenting the children.
Five: Preparation is Overrated
Why waste paper, time and money drafting and filing documents for the Court to properly review ahead of time when you can simply tell the Court what you want to say at the hearing. Further, why would you want the other side to have any clue what you might bring up and give them a chance to think up a lie to cover their tracks! Just bring an old bag filled with photos, notes, and any other miscellaneous document that proves what jerk your ex is. Oh and don't forget your phone so you can try and display those cryptic texts back and forth between you and your ex. If the Court starts getting huffy about your failure to be prepared, simply ask for a continuance at each hearing, especially when it becomes clear the Court is not going to rule in your favor.
Why should the Court or your ex have to finish that sentence when you already know what they're going to say. That's right, its much faster and efficient to interrupt and make your point, that clearly they have missed. Don't let your ex get a word in edge-wise to the Court, because they're only lying anyway. Along those same lines, make sure you are thinking about what you're going to say next, instead of listening to what the Judge, your attorney or the other side is saying.
Seven: Be an Open Book
If the paperwork for your hearing only addresses custody and visitation, make sure you bring up support; and when you are in Court to talk about property, don't forget to bring up the children or any other issue that has bothered you over the last ten years of your marriage. The Court should then have a clear picture of you as a long suffering spouse and make orders accordingly.
Eight: Honesty is Overrated
If the truth will make you look bad, avoid it at all costs. If the Court asks you a direct question, tell them what you want them to hear instead, thereby potentially avoiding any unpleasantness.
The only time honesty is helpful is when describing your ex. If she is a slut, say it; if he is an ass, bring it up. Don't mince words; don't sugar coat it; say what you mean!
Nine: Bring Company with Attitude
Make sure you bring all of your family and friends to court with you and direct them all to follow Tip One, it will be like telegraphing your case to the Court in stereo and what could be better than that! BETTER YET...if you all arrive late and after the Judge has taken the bench, make sure to make noise as you and your group are entering, the Court will be aware of you and your entourage's presence and will be able to pick your supporters out while your case is being heard. And, whatever you do, don't forget to bring your most recent partner! The Court should be fully aware of the person you plan on replacing the children's other parent with and the more they can assist you in telegraphing your side to the Judge with body language, dress and attitude the better, so the Court will see you are a united front. This goes the same with making any necessary disparaging comments directly to your ex when they go by and shooting them dirty looks from time to time.
Ten: Make Sure the Judge Knows How You Feel
If the case is not going how you planned, let the Court know!...slam your papers around, scribble furiously on your yellow pad, ignore the Judge, look to your entourage and raise your eyebrows. If that doesn't work, simply interrupt the Court in the middle of their ruling and repeat everything you have already said (because clearly they didn't "get it") and bring up anything else you feel they need to hear. As a final resort, slam out of your chair, slam doors, gates and anything else in your way and have your family pick a fight with your ex and/or his family out in the hall. This way, the bailiff will be able to come out into the hall and get the TRUTH and be able to report your displeasure back to the Judge in chambers...after all you never know when you might be back in Court in front of this same Judge.
Obviously this is written with a whole lotta tongue-in-cheek, but realize I only make the above-mentioned observations because the actions/words/behavior are not rare enough! I am certainly not saying that you are not the parent
better able to care for your children, and maybe your ex is all of those
things mentioned above. Yet, there is a way, time and place to inform
the Court of your concerns without making yourself look bad in the
process...and it all boils down to respect...respect the process, the Court, the other party and most of all yourself.
For more information regarding California Family Law contact Stone Law Group in Fresno at (559) 226-1910.