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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Divorce Tips for Men -- Courtroom Decorum

Five tips on courtroom decorum -- for men.

1. Wear socks. For the girls, sartorial faux pas has the benefit of a shock value. Dress your female client loudly enough and everybody in the courtroom might just forget what the hearing was all about. The judge will be telling his clerk: “Mary, can you believe the skirt on Mrs. What’s-her-name when she was testifying about what-was-that- about?!” Men enjoy no such powers. If you do not wear socks, everybody in the courtroom will remember you as “that cheating SOB who does not even wear socks.”

2. The judge is not flirting with you. Neither is the opposing counsel. Neither is your own counsel. You are just a job. I promise.

3. In North Carolina, the assets are divided according to their value on the date of separation. If your estranged wife arrives at your doorstep in the middles of the night dressed in nothing but high heels and a raincoat, it is possible that she finally saw you for the splendid man you are – the realization that escaped her in the prior ten years. It is somewhat more likely, however, that she learned of a large asset you purchased since you separated, and her primary motive is to share in your wealth.

4. You are classified as a “supporting spouse” because you supported your spouse. The louder you protest that you paid for everything while she did nothing but enjoyed manicures and the yoga classes, the longer you will be eligible to pay for those same manicures and yoga classes. This may sound unfair to you, but such is North Carolina alimony law. Take what you will from this.

5. Your hair is fine.

Divorce Tips for Women -- Courtroom Decorum

Five tips on courtroom decorum – for women.

1. Divorce court is dull. Terrifying, yes. Tragic, yes. Devastating, yes. But also – unexpectedly and unavoidably dull.
Ladies, this is important! No matter how much the judge and the lawyers bore you, no matter how long your husband's accountants drone on, how incomprehensibly mind-numbing the direct of financial advisers, real estate experts and private investigators, you must – I repeat – must! refrain from treating a working courtroom like your dentist’s waiting room. Absolutely no: nail polishing, text messaging, hair brushing, blogging, facebooking, or organizing receipts in your pocket book. No flirting with male paralegals. No reading. There will be a copy of the Holy Bible on your desk. Ladies, the Bible is there for one purpose only – and it is not your reading pleasure. This is your first tip. Sit still.

2. This is counter-intuitive. Judge does not need your help in discerning the truth. At least he does not know he does.
Most divorce proceedings in North Carolina are bench trials. This means that the judges do all the fact-finding. Some of the judges have been fact-finding for decades, and have grown quite comfortable with the task. I realize that a woman’s heart knows when her husband lies on the stand. It is only natural to want to be helpful, so the judge catches on as well.
You mustn’t. I promise you – Justice either catches on, or it does not. But here are some of the things I ask you not to do. Shake head. Groan. Roll eyes. Point. Point, shake head, roll eyes. Wave arms. Scribble furiously while shaking head. This will be harder than you realize, but you must. This is your second tip. Sit still.

3. Courts are secure government buildings. This means that security surveillance is working in most of the rooms. Live camera feeds are available to the court security. And to the Court staff. And to the Court, if it wants to. So this is your tip number three – I think you are catching on – do not fidget when you are out of your designated courtroom either. You never know who might see you.

4. Speaking of security. Those ridiculously small rooms flanking the courtrooms are for talking to your counsel. That is why they have two chairs and a table. These rooms are not there because your ex-husband looks particularly good in his new blue shirt. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. Girls lost millions to these little rooms. Seriously, ladies. Just stay in that courtroom.

5. This is a hard one. Tips one through four require nothing but good posture. That’s all there is to following one through four. This one calls upon your good judgment.
Perfect Red Lipstick, Hollywood hills, bra strips, push-up bras, black stocking, short skirts, lace, ribbons, bright nails. These are all very good props, although they are best for the start of the marriage. Divorce court is technically not the place or time to bring out the magic. Most lawyers will unequivocally tell their clients not to use any of the props, and simply come in dressed as slightly duller clones of their lawyers. This is good, solid advice, and I give it to most of my lady clients. Think of it this way. Ask yourself whether you want the judge to remember you by the prop. Do you want to be remembered as the triple-D lady? Big hair lady? Classic red lip lady? That is not an esthetic decision -- that is a strategic decision. When making your choice, first consider your options and costs. Big hair lady? If you otherwise would remain “the one who stole all the cash and ran off with the dentist” then maybe. Big Hair might be a better option. It is a strategic decision, girls. But if you go for the big hair card, it better be So Big that nobody will remember the dentist.
If in doubt, dress like your lawyer does.

Divorce Attorneys -- When should You Get One?

It is a popular belief among couples on the brink of divorce that the very act of engaging an attorney increases acrimony and hatred. That is a logical fallacy. First of all, acrimony and hatred is only created when your spouse becomes aware that the counsel has been retained. Banging the door to punctuate your yelp “You will hear from my lawyer” is a tactic quite different from that of tacitly stopping by the office of your friendly divorce attorney, while your spouse believes that you are occupied by a game of bridge at the club. Second, and even more importantly, there are many instances in which receiving consultation about the state of the law will help you learn that the offer your spouse just made is as good as it gets. Surrender your position rapidly and gracefully. Avoid the fight, restore peace and encourage your spouse to believe you are a sweetheart, if not a pushover. Just hope your spouse does not seek legal counsel, and discover that he is not getting quite the good seal he thinks. Then quick have a separation agreement drafted.

Fifty ways to dump your loved one

Zagat has spoken on love and break-up. We now know the proper restaurants in which to "dump" our significant others. Apparently, the advantages to seek out include (a) the number of exits to assure rapid egress and (b) the looks of the regulars and the staff (we think for the benefit of the dump-ee who will need all the distractions (s)he can manage.)
Natually, all approved grounds are located in New York and LA. Always a fan of the small and the esoteric, Charlotte Divorce Lawyer Blog seeks nominations of a perfect local restaurant to say "I don't" to a loved one.