1. Once your divorce is filed, find out as much as you can about the judge.
2. Stay out of court as much as possible because court appearances are costly, not only financially, but also from an emotional standpoint. Judges will not know you or your case unless you are in a situation where you are in court every week on motions or hearings, and often the judge will be getting a very negative impression of you.
3. Make sure that you and your attorney are well prepared before you go to court. Floundering around in court can create a bad impression, and is also costly.
4. Through your attorney, see if your judge is one who will cut court appearances to minimize expense. This can be done by, in some instances, having original pre-trials and some court appearances done by phone if the judge and the other attorney will agree.
5. When you go to court, try to accomplish as many matters as possible. Don't go to court every week on a motion. If there are issues, save them so that you are covering several issues at once, because there is an economy of scale, and this is a way to save money.
6. Try every means to settle the case first through meetings and if possible, direct conversation with your soon to be former spouse. Try mediation, because this settles most cases. If the case must go to trial, discuss other options. Perhaps yours is a case that should be arbitrated. Arbitration can often be a cost-effective means in resolving a case without numerous court appearances because in court you will spend a day in court, and often get two or three hours of testimony in, or you may be coming back again and again for court appearances before you actually go to trial, while with an arbitrator you can be much more effective in time management.
7. If you actually go to trial, make sure that you are well prepared, and look at other options. One option that can be effective in a small case where there are not a lot of issues, is to have a summary trial. In a summary trial, if everyone agrees, you can relax the rules of evidence and submit exhibits in advance to be reviewed by the judge. You can have your opening and closing statements in writing, and have an understanding that each party will be allowed to speak for a limited amount of time without being questioned or cross-examined, thus the judge gets a picture on an uninterrupted basis, and is able to make a decision. This can be effective where there are not a lot of complicated issues, and where there is not a lot of money to spend on court costs and attorney fees.
8. Last, but not least, retain an attorney who meets your needs, who understands the legal system, understands the courts, and will be doing what is best for you. Here at Gornbein Smith Peskin-Shepherd PLLC, we will do whatever we can to help you and our role is to effectively represent you on a case by case basis. Thus, if you are fighting over a million dollars, you will have representation that is effective to protect your assets. If you are fighting over debts, you will still be fully represented, but the fact that you have very little in funds for attorney fees, will be recognized and everything will be done to minimize the costs on your behalf.
About the Author
Henry S. Gornbein is the founding and managing partner in the law firm Gornbein Smith Peskin-Shepherd PLLC, specializing in Family Law and Divorce Services including matrimonial law, divorce, child custody, prenuptial agreements, divorce mediation, arbitration, and paternity. Our goal is to facilitate humane, dignified resolutions to Family Law issues. We personalize our services within a sensitive environment with compassion and understanding.