What is a family law attorney? An attorney who represents men or women in the area of family law – which includes all things related to custody, support, the division of marital assets and debts and ultimately divorce. As you can imagine, a family law attorney regularly deals with some pretty messy facts, and certainly not anything anyone imagined on the day you said “yes.”
Among other things I am asked, there seems to always be the question: Will I Get My Day in Court? More specifically, will there be an opportunity to tell the judge my side of the story? Whether it is infidelity or alcoholism, a scorned or angry spouse naturally wants to feel some sort of vindication. A therapist could certainly share the ins and outs of why that vindication may or may not be important, but as a trained litigator and collaborative family law attorney, I always candidly share with my client – keep your expectations low. You may get your day in court but it may not feel like a win. And, often, you may have gotten your day in court and didn’t realize it.
I am sure you are scratching your head. Let me give you a few things to consider:
1) North Carolina and other states require that you file certain documents with the Court that you have verified under oath. For many hotly contested custody cases, those documents may include affidavits of friends and family who can attest to the good and bad acts they may have witnessed. This may be your day in court as the judge reviews those documents only prior to making any decisions in your case.
2) What’s important to you now (and the reason you desire your day in court) may not be of long-term importance (or even relevant) to your case. When did all of those bad things happen to you? Did the infidelity matter at the time? Was the mistress/paramour inappropriately introduced to your children? Are you a dependent or supporting spouse? What exactly is the issue for resolution? The answer to these questions and others may significantly impact your case and will most certainly change what should be presented in Court.
3) No matter what you want to believe or think you know is true, there will always be two sides to a story. While you may want to share all of your spouse’s dirty laundry in order for the judge to understand why your day in court is necessary, be prepared to hear everything (and anything) about you that you never imagined would be shared outside of the sanctity of your home. Is your day in court going to be worth it? How will it impact your children? Your ability to co-parent? Your employment? Your emotional well-being?
4) Will you actually get a WHOLE DAY in Court? Not always. Many jurisdictions have “Local Rules” that govern how much time you have in front of the judge. Some temporary hearings may be as short as 20 minutes! Work with your counsel to use your time wisely.
While I prioritize the emotional needs of my clients and absolutely see the critical importance to them of these matters, there are many considerations in a family law case. Talk them through with your counsel and make a smart decision not only on when to present your best evidence but whether having your day in court makes sense for you and your family.
Founded in 2008 by Nicole H. Sodoma, Sodoma Law is primarily a Family Law practice based in Charlotte, NC. with concentration in the areas of separation divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, equitable distribution, prenuptial and post nuptial agreements, surrogacy, and parenting plans for non-traditional families. Sodoma Law also handles estate planning, business law and appeals. For more information, visit https://www.sodomalaw.com/.