Divorce is inherently stressful and emotionally painful. To decrease the added stress of attending your first divorce hearing, proper preparation and being ready for what you are about to face can help to reduce your anxiety and help to potentiate a favorable outcome for you. Advance preparation should include all of the following:

First: Gather All Important Financial Records Together

Prior to your first divorce hearing it is important to organize all relevant financial documents. Be sure to fill out a Financial Disclosure Form(usually signed under oath.) Collect all state and federal tax returns for the last 2 years and have a recent check stub showing YTD monthly Gross and Net Incomes.

Second: Itemize Furniture and Household Items

Itemizing all furniture and household items is extremely important especially if you are separated or if a separation is anticipated.

Third: Put Together a Parenting and Custody and Placement Plan

Custody of children and an equitable parenting plan can be some of the most contentious issues involved in a divorce.

Considerable thought should be given to the type of custody arrangement and placement you are seeking in court.

Be sure to fill out a form which is called a Child Support Worksheet that lists both yours and the other parent’s income.

Consideration should also be given to any alternative custody and placement arrangement which you are willing to concede to the other side.

4th: Review all Applicable State Laws and Statutes

Different states have different laws and statutes which are applicable to divorce cases and resultant child custody.

Many applicable state statutes are available through state websites and it is important to review these to become informed of your rights prior to your first divorce hearing.

5th: Review Your Evidence and Practice Your Testimony

Prior to your first divorce hearing be sure to carefully review all your evidence to be familiar with all the facts that you may wish to present.

It is also important to carefully review and practice any testimony that you may be called upon to give.

6th: Develop a List of Questions for Your Witnesses

Craft a list of questions for your witnesses who can best support your case.

Good witnesses are usually those who can verify your good care of your children.

These can include friends, relatives and counselors who have treated the children

7th: Develop Cross Examination Questions for the Other Side’s Witnesses

The other side will have witnesses also and so you should prepare questions in advance to challenge their answers.