Have you filed for divorce, but the thought of going to family court is causing you anxiety because you and your spouse cannot agree on child custody and support issues? Appearing before a judge can be stressful and intimidating, but being prepared and understanding what to expect can help reduce the stress.
In this blog post, let a member of our family lawyer team ease your anxiety by providing an overview of what you can expect when you go to court. If you have questions, call Seabrook Law Offices at (408) 560-4487 to schedule your consultation with one of our compassionate and experienced attorneys.
What is Family Court in Santa Clara County?
Family court is a division of the Superior Court in Santa Clara County that handles all matters related to family law. Family court deals with issues such as divorce, legal separation, annulment, child custody and visitation rights, spousal support or alimony, child support, restraining orders, domestic violence cases, and more.
You can resolve family law matters in California through negotiation, settlement, or litigation. Your Santa Clara County divorce lawyer will negotiate with your spouse to work out an agreement without litigating the divorce, although we will take the case to court if needed.
If you filed for divorce, you might need to wait months for a hearing. However, if there are still unresolved divorce terms after you and your spouse have exhausted all negotiation options, you might need to ask the judge to decide on these issues before your divorce trial.
In this case, the family court will use Requests for Orders to settle these issues while your divorce case is still pending. For example, you or your spouse could file a Request for Order to request what is known as an evidentiary hearing asking a judge to rule on custody and child support issues on which you and your spouse disagree.
The relief granted is usually only temporary, lasting until the final hearing. However, in some cases, the order may be final. It is determined by the type of relief sought as well as the facts of the case. Your case is still ongoing, and the ruling may change based on the evidence presented during the trial or the agreement you reach for a final divorce order.
Preparing for the Hearing
Among other things, before your hearing, your family lawyer will:
- Gather all relevant evidence
- Electronically file all required materials with the court
- Prepare witnesses for the hearing
- Help you better understand the process
- Present your case to the court with skill and argue for the best possible resolution
Conduct in the Courtroom
Now that you’re heading into family court for your evidentiary hearing, it’s essential to understand the behavior expected from you and the other parties involved. Court proceedings must be formal and dignified. You will need to dress in appropriate business attire. You address the judge as “Your Honor.” The court does not tolerate interruptions when someone else is speaking.
You should always be respectful and courteous, even if things get heated in the courtroom. This is critical if you are going through a child custody battle, as the judge will watch your behavior closely. Remember, your San Jose child custody lawyer is by your side, advocating on your behalf.
The other parties involved in a family court case can include your spouse and other relatives or experts who may be testifying on behalf of either side.
If you feel overwhelmed or stressed during your family court case, take a few deep breaths and stay calm. The judge will be less likely to rule in your favor if you act out of anger or frustration. Remember that this process can be intense, but you must remain professional and cooperative throughout your case.
What to Expect in Court
At your evidentiary hearing, both parties to the divorce can present evidence and witnesses to support their position. You will also have the opportunity to cross-examine each other’s witnesses. The judge will often ask questions as well.
There may also be times when the judge asks both parties to meet outside of court with a mediator to see if they can come up with an agreement without having a decision handed down by the court. If this is unsuccessful, the judge will decide based on the evidence presented. You may receive a decision immediately in court, or the judge may issue a written decision later.
The Divorce Trial
After your evidentiary hearing, if you cannot agree on other issues and your case proceeds to trial, the court will decide on those issues at that time. The judge only makes a final decision once both parties have exchanged all discovery and disclosures. Your Santa Clara County divorce lawyer will continue to be with you every step of the way.
Appealing Your Case
You may want to appeal if you believe the court’s final decision and order need to be legally corrected. In that case, a higher court would review the decision of the family court. Your attorney can advise you on whether or not to appeal.
COVID-19 and Family Court
According to the Family Division of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, as of August 2, 2021, family law attorneys, represented parties, self-represented parties, and witnesses may appear in person or remotely using Microsoft Teams for any hearing that the court designates as a trial.
Your family lawyer will let you know if the court decides to proceed with the trial remotely and what you’ll need to know about remote protocols if that is the case.
Contact the Experienced Santa Clara County Divorce Lawyers at Seabrook Law Offices Today
If you’re considering or have filed for divorce, you may also need to deal with issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, or division of assets. With so much on your plate, we understand how challenging this time can be for you.
Our compassionate and experienced Santa Clara County divorce lawyers at Seabrook Law Offices will fight hard to protect your interests and the interests of your loved ones throughout the legal process, whether it’s with mediation or taking your case to trial.
Call us at (408) 560-4487 or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation. We are here to help you emotionally and legally as you navigate this difficult time. For your convenience, we have locations in San Jose and Fremont.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.