February 15, 2019

Look Before you Leap- into court

If you're in a divorce and you believe you're in an disagreement - one you can't settle- with your soon to be ex-spouse and you need to go to court, find out what you're getting into.

It’s similar to checking out anything before you commit. Not quite like a car purchase, but we’ll use that one as an analogy. If you are looking at a car, you tend not to buy one just by a photo on the internet. You are more likely to find out a bit about it first.

You speak to people you may know who have the same make and model. You research on the web for people’s comments on it. You may buy a car magazine that highlights that model. Something like market research. And it’s highly likely (if you like the looks of it) that you’ll go to the dealership and test drive it – maybe more than once. Even in different kinds of weather.

Court can be like that. If you’re considering it as your process – check it out. Court is public. That means anyone can go. No admission fee. Find out when Family Court is being held in your local court. In Ottawa it’s most days of the week. You can sit in on a trial, you can sit in on contested Motions. It will show you what you are about to buy into. Try to pay attention to cases you hear that appear to be like your own situation. Even if you can’t find a case that seems similar, you will become familiar with what a court room look like, how, where and when people talk, where people sit and all of the basics.

Some family cases are not open to the public, especially ones dealing with Children’s Services – just ask when those cases are and avoid them. Most others are open to the public and the court staff are able to tell you what courts you can go into. If you stick to trials and Motions, you should be find to sit in the back and watch. Take notes. This will be you soon.

Really watch what is going on. If someone is representing themselves, watch what they are saying and how the judge responds. They may make some mistakes. Bad language and cutting of the other person who is trying to make their argument are mistakes. Common ones, so if that happens, watch how the judge reacts. It’s likely to be negative, so learn from what other people are doing that do not go well and don’t do them yourself. Watch to see how and when people get to have their say. There are lots of rules going on and it’s a great way to become familiar with some of them when it’s not your life under the eye of the judge. The more you familiarize yourself with the court and it’s processes, the better prepared you will be when it’s your turn. You’ve made lots of decisions in your life. You find out information and then make a choice. Treat court the same way. Find out information about it and then make your choice on how to go about it.

And when you go to the court, dress like you’re going to a job interview, even if it’s not your own case. Yes, even if you’re only sitting in the back watching. Court staff will tend to be more respectful to you as you are being more respectful of where you are and the job they do.

And don’t forget, you can contact us to know more about the law when you do go into that court room about your own case.

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