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Going to divorce court? What 9 mistakes could cost you the most?

Many divorces are settled, but if you can't resolve all of your issues between yourselves, you can have a judge resolve them for you. If you do go to trial, preparation and etiquette are key. Their lack could cost you in terms of credibility and even affect your settlement.

Here are nine tips to keep in mind:

1. Don't go without a lawyer. You're intelligent, savvy and may have experience negotiating tough deals. What you don't have is legal knowledge, and that could cost you in terms of results if you go it alone. Moreover, divorce attorneys know court procedures and etiquette, which are more important than you may realize. Finally, it's difficult to argue effectively when emotions are high -- and they will be. You will almost certainly get better results if you have a good lawyer.

2. Meet with your lawyer about the trial ahead of time. Perhaps the most important predictor of success at trial is preparation. Your attorney will walk you through what to expect and explain what information you need to touch upon in your testimony.

3. Keep all your demands reasonable. Negotiations often start with a request for more than you think you'll get. In court, you are more likely to get what seems reasonable to the judge. If you appear unreasonable, the judge may rule against you altogether.

4. Have all your paperwork ready. Be able to say what you want and why you want it -- and back it up with documentation and evidence. Be ready to answer any reasonable questions from the judge.

5. Dress appropriately. It may not seem fair, but judges do have unconscious biases that could work against you. Your dress should acknowledge your respect for the court and avoid raising any questions. Ideally, dress in clean, neat business attire.

6. Turn off your cellphone before you enter the courtroom. A ringing cellphone will draw the judge's attention in a negative way. Any use of a cellphone will generally be seen as disrespectful and distracting to the judge. It will not be appreciated.

7. Be polite to the court clerk and courtroom personnel. Clerks, bailiffs and other court personnel are not faceless minions but the judge's trusted assistants. Being disrespectful toward them could anger the judge and negatively affect their opinion of you.

8. Keep quiet unless the judge speaks to you. Your lawyer should handle all communication with the judge unless you are testifying. If you have questions, write them down for your attorney. Never interrupt the judge.

9. Keep calm. Regardless of its justification, anger is not your friend in court. Judges typically respond best to a calm, reasoned approach.

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  • Understanding the legalities of the divorce process Laura has walked me through the maze of this legal system educating me so that I understand the divorce process. She has fought for me an every issue that I have had concerns with and given me excellent advice when I needed it. I am very satisfied with the direction and results. - Anonymous
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  • Highly Recommended - Caring, Tough, Affordable Lawyer Laura Eisenberg was 100% on my side during my divorce and actually got it pushed through ahead of schedule because of her good relationship with the Oakland County judge! She got me everything I wanted and also worked out the custody, child support and the property settlement that I wanted. - Katherine
  • Very Skilled & Experienced Lawyer Laura helped me through a very difficult divorce situation. I was completely taken by surprise when my spouse filed divorce papers, and was worried about the children, the house, child support, etc. A friend recommended Laura because she had really helped her with her divorce. - Anonymous
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Responding to our clients' needs is our first priority at Eisenberg & Spilman, PLLC. Whether you are considering divorce and have questions about your rights, or you are seeking custody of your child, our Oakland County family law attorneys are here to help you.

We invite you to contact Eisenberg & Spilman, PLLC, at 248-358-8880 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss your divorce or other family law matters. In addition to our regular business hours, evening and weekend appointments are available upon request.

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Eisenberg & Spilman, PLLC
600 South Adams Road Suite 100
Birmingham, MI 48009

Phone: 248-358-8880
Birmingham Family Law Office

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