YOUR DAY IN COURTby Aaron Dishon, Esq.
Most dissolution cases involve at least one court hearing. The following information will assist you in knowing what to expect when you go to court.
Many family law courts are run less formally than other types of civil litigation. However, family law is a civil proceeding, and certain formalities and rules are involved.
It is a good idea to get a good night's rest prior to your court hearing. The Court hearing may be a particularly stressful experience, and it would serve you well to come to court rested and relaxed, and ready to proceed effectively.
Typically, the attorney will set up an appointment with you several weeks prior to your hearing to discuss the case, review documents, discuss your position on various issues, and your testimony. Your attorney will probably instruct you to bring certain documents with you to court, and it is a good idea to go through these documents and familiarize yourself with them well before your court hearing.
When you arrive at court, you will usually have to pass through a metal detector, just like at the airport. Then proceed to the floor and Department that Mr. Dishon has instructed you to meet him at. It is important that you be on time, so set aside plenty of extra driving time.
Many courts have a master calendar system, which means that your attorney will appear at a main courtroom where he will be assigned to a specific judge based upon his time estimate for your case.
Once you are assigned a judge, you will proceed to the courtroom. You will note that there are various personnel in the courtroom.
- The Bailiff is an officer who maintains order in the courtroom as well as assisting the judge with various documents and Exhibits.
- The court clerk is responsible for scheduling the cases, maintaining the files, and interfacing with the attorneys.
- Some courts have a court reporter who transcribes the court testimony to maintain a written record. Other courtrooms are equipped with video recording equipment to record the hearings.
Once your case is called, the parties each state their appearances for the record. I will state that I represent you at that point. Subsequently, before any party may testify the court clerk will administer the oath "Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?." An alternative oath may be administered to you if you object to swearing under the name of God.
Subsequently, each party is given a chance to testify. The attorney will first calling his or her client for "direct examination." During this examination, the attorney will ask their clients questions that establish their case and positions on various issues. After direct examination, the opposing counsel is allowed to cross-examine the witness.
Once testimony is completed, the attorneys each make their closing arguments to the judge. In the closing argument each attorney argues your position, and attempts to convince the judge to rule in your favor.
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