It’s a pretty common belief that men and fathers receive the short end of the stick when it comes to family courts and that judges frequently display a bias in the courtroom. I was fortunate in that my judge was fair throughout the process and I believe that is probably the case for most, but it was certainly a possibility that I discussed with my attorney.
From my experience, however, the most important thing you can do to receive equal treatment in the courtroom is to conduct your personal affairs in a way that presents a positive light. You want to show the best side of you before your judge to demonstrate that you’re an upstanding citizen and dedicated father. It would not be in your best interests to come across as the “bad guy” in court.
There are a number of ways to go about presenting the best possible image both in and out of the courtroom.
Dress for success — Whenever you have to appear before the judge, make sure that you are clothed and groomed in a professional manner. This means to shower, wear a suit, trim your beard, etc. You want to look like you are going to a job interview.
Avoid displays of anger or frustration — Tensions run high during divorce, and even if everything is going smoothly, you are bound to run into some minor issues here or there with your soon-to-be ex. Do your best to remain level-headed throughout the process, particularly during court hearings.
Get an attorney you trust — I cannot stress enough the importance of having competent representation. Divorce is too complicated to go through on your own, and you need the legal advice and guidance of a lawyer looking out for your interests, such as the attorneys of Cordell & Cordell who focus on protecting the rights of men and fathers in family court.
Keep communications with your ex civil — You want to avoid testimony from your spouse that makes you look like the bad guy. If your spouse is able to bring up specific incidents of you yelling and name calling, particularly around your children, it won’t look good on you. This is doubly important for things like text messages and email, which can easily be recalled in the courtroom.
Continue being a great dad — It is crucial if you have children to continue doing all the things you do to take care of your kids. One of the biggest factors courts look at when awarding custody is whether you have consistently been there to help take care of your kids, so keep taking them to baseball practice, go to parent-teacher conferences, help them with their homework, read them a bedtime story, etc.
These are just a few suggestions that I picked up along the way, though you would be best to consult with an experienced divorce attorney for more specific advice on how to act throughout the divorce. Much of this may seem like common sense, but it is also easy to forget during the high tensions that run throughout a divorce.
Presenting the right image to the judge can make a huge difference.