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Family Law: An Etiquette Guide

Below are some (just some, not all) things to remember in terms of how to act, and treat your ex-partner, when litigating in Family Law.  Remember that your actions are being monitored, and your behavior will be used against you in a court of (family) law. 

To Avoid Nasty Encounters with Judges,

1. Don't swear at a judge in court, your partner, or the opposing counsel when asked to speak, when asked to remain silent, when entering and leaving the court room and court house.  Don' threaten, intimidate, or any other negative behavior that is questionable. 

2. If you have been given an order by the court that requires you to do something - DO IT. Do not ignore a court order.  Do not become a vigilante; do not engage in self-help; do what the court order requires you to do, and if you have a problem with the order, file a motion to fight the circumstances. Never, ever, ignore a court order. The result will be a look of disgust by the judge; immediate warfare for your ex-partner who will jump on the opportunity to find you in contempt, go to court, and make you pay for the costs on the motion, which, might I remind you may be in the thousands of dollars! Do not ignore court orders. 

3. Do pay child and spousal support if you have been ordered to do so.  Oh, the long list of ramifications if you do not abide by the child and support payments.  

4. Always, always, always, barring some emergency, show up for court.  Do not disregard the process by failing to attend at court. You are a named party in the proceeding. Perhaps it was you who applied for the divorce! You must attend. 

5. Do not under any circumstances alienate the children from the other parent. This process actually has remedial procedures in court to fight you on and if there is evidence of alienation, the ramifications can be quite terrible. 

6. Don't allow yourself to get emotional, lie, frantic, enraged. As easy as it sounds, these characteristics will surely haunt you many months and years after the divorce is finalized.  These behaviors can create a negative outcome in your case - and in some cases, if you lie, you may even be struck from the proceeding, unable to proceed with the trial, and get stuck with the allocation that the court determines in your absence. 

7. Never hide money, always keep up to date financial records, and always disclose those records pursuant to the requirements in the Rules. 

Family law rules are in place to ensure that the parties who wish to divorce and divide their property and deal with all of the other legal issues are kept in line with the process to ensure expediency, and prevent long drawn out litigations as a strategy to financially exhaust the other party.  The court will not have it.  Be prepared to be civil, act in accordance with the Rules, and abide by the Rules if you want a fair chance of settling your matrimonial dispute and moving on with your life.