1. Accept it’s not meant to be pleasant
If you feel like you aren’t in control it is because you aren’t in control.
That’s why the judge gets to make the decisions.
2. Know there will be LOTS of hanging around
Take water, snacks and a book
Low blood sugar, boredom and an ex in the next room = bad combination.
3. Use the opportunity
It’s rare that all the players will be in the same place with frankly nothing else to do.
Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! (And no, you don’t have to be in the same room)
4. Don’t speak until spoken to
Trust your lawyer. If he or she isn’t involving you it’s because it’s not relevant and might actually hurt your case or irritate the judge.
Generally if your lawyer isn’t interrupting it means things are going ok (and even if they are not, he or she will have their turn)
Take a notebook and pass comments to your lawyer. Don’t expect them to be able to work with someone tugging their sleeve every two minutes. Could you?
5. Turn your phone off
(Self explanatory I hope!)
6. Make sure you have a plan for the evening and a support network
Court hearings require huge amounts of concentration and emotional energy and a sympathetic ear and a big bowl of pasta or a large glass of pinot may well prove invaluable if you eventually want a night’s sleep.
7. Go to the Court in advance if it will reassure you
Most hearing rooms look just like Council offices but some are like stepping into a Dickens novel! If you think this might faze you, go and find a clerk (efficient person wearing black cape thing) and ask if you can have a little look. Clerks are unfailingly helpful and understanding and, if nothing else, you can locate the loos and find out if there’s a coffee machine (or locate the nearest Starbucks!)
8. Tell the truth
Again, might sound obvious. Judges are people too. If you bend the truth even a little bit and get caught out it will colour his or her judgement on everything you say (even the good bits) and you will get even more stressed
9. Don’t worry too much about showing emotion
For heaven’s sake don’t throw chairs or give an Oscar worthy performance and cry all over the judge (he or she can’t hear all the important things you have to say if you are sobbing your heart out). But it is stressful, personal and difficult. It is real if you need to take 5 minutes, have a glass or water or take a tissue and will not reflect badly on you.
10. Wear lipstick (or shine your shoes if you are not female!)
It won’t change anything but it will make you feel a bit better.
(You get the idea, though)