I am platniff in a family law case in Giles County Circuit Court. I have an upcoming hearing. Looking for general information:
- What to expect
- What to bring
- Do(s) and Don't(s)
- Best practices
- Common mistakes
Smartest thing you can do is go to several hearings and watch.
The domains for which you requested general information are actually specific information areas. There are specific rules, specific procedures, specific codes that guide each one of them.
You can't learn how to be a trial lawyer (I assume from your post you're representing yourself) with a few general tips online unfortunately.
Strongly recommend you speak to a family law attorney in your area, even if you end up not hiring one, before your hearings begin.
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For specific procedural tips, it really does require you knowing the law and the procedural practices of the court itself.
As for presentation tips:
1. Be prepared. Bring all the evidence you expect you may need to prove your case as well as defend against any challenges or other issues raised by your opponent. Organize your evidence into something that can quickly be sifted through (binder/redweld files with folders, etc.) with the appropriate labels. If you can afford it, make at least two extra copies for the judge and your opponent (only include evidence and information that was previously exchanged if you make copies).
2. Be respectful toward the judge and your opponent('s counsel). If the judge is speaking or opposing counsel is speaking, try not to nod/shake head or talk over them. You can state that you disagree respectfully after they are finished speaking.
3. Dress business attire.
Beyond that, it's really knowing your case, the law, and how the particular court works. Safest bet, as always, is to retain an attorney, if you can, before the hearing.
This answer provides general advice and should not be understood as to create an attorney-client relationship between the questioner and the responding attorney.
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