While many people are anxious to finalize their divorce, if it cannot be settled amicably out of court, the thought of going to trial can be petrifying. Concerns about the court process and how to prepare for the trial emotionally are not unusual. Many people have never been in a courtroom, and their entire understanding of trial is based on what they have seen on television, or heard from friends. While a divorce trial can be a highly emotional time, if your divorce case is going to trial, here are a few ideas that may help you through the process:

  • Meet with your lawyer in advance of your court date to prepare you for court and the order of the trial testimony.
  • Ask your lawyer whether there are any documents you should review in preparation for court, such as your deposition.
  • Visit the courtroom in advance to get comfortable with the surroundings.
  • Ask your lawyer about having a support person with you on your court date.
  • Ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen and consider what options you would have if it did.
  • Avoid alcohol, eat healthfully, exercise, and have plenty of rest during the period of time leading up to the court date. Each of these will help you to prepare for the emotions of the day.
  • Plan what you intend to wear in advance. Small preparations will lower your stress.
  • Visualize the experience going well. Picture yourself sitting in the witness chair, giving clear, confident, and truthful answers to easy questions.
  • Arrive early in the courthouse and make sure you have a plan for parking your car if you are not familiar with the area.
  • Take slow, deep breaths. Breathing deeply will steady your voice, calm your nerves, and improve your focus.

Your attorney will be prepared to support you throughout the proceedings. By taking the above steps, you can increase the ease of your experience.  If even with these steps it is difficult for you emotionally, do not worry about it.  Everyone, including the judge, understands this is an emotional time and if necessary your attorney will simply ask that a break be taken so that you have time to regain your composure.

About the Author:

Marlene Pontrelli is a Member in our Phoenix office. Marlene is a certified specialist in family law. Her practice focuses on all aspects of family law including dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity, child custody and child support matters. She is admitted to practice in California and Arizona. She is a member of the State Bar’s Family Law Practice and Procedure Committee and is a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family law. She has extensive trial and appellate experience including appearing before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Pontrelli has written several books, including as a co-author of the Divorce in Arizona book. She is a frequent lecturer in the area of family law and has conducted workshops throughout the country. Ms. Pontrelli is also an adjunct professor at The Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, where she teaches the family law class. Marlene may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5081.