General Court Guidelines

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  1. Keep a copy of everything you file with the court or serve on the other party.
  2. Do NOT send anything to the court that you do not want the other party or the public to see.  Financial disclosure statements and the confidential divorce addenda are generally not subject to public inspection.  Almost everything else in your file will be public record.
  3. You are NOT allowed to have a private conversation with the judge or court commissioner about your case. This means you may not speak to them directly OR SEND LETTERS to them unless the other party is present or copied in on the correspondence.  Materials sent to the judge will be unread unless forwarded to all parties. 
  4. If you come to court to enforce or modify your judgment or court order, bring a copy of the judgment or order that pertains to the issue.
  5. If you need the testimony of other persons, have them in court.  Letters are usually NOT admissible in court. There are exceptions, however.  For example, police reports and reports of school officials will usually be admitted at a temporary hearing if notice is provided to the other party in advance.
  6. If you are using the online divorce forms, it works best to fill them out ONLINE and then print them.
  7. Only one person may speak at a time. This is especially important to remember when appearing by phone. Parties are not allowed to interrupt others except when making legal objections.
  8. Legal objections may be made only if the other party attempts to introduce evidence that is not legally admissible.  You cannot interrupt or object to a person’s statement just because you do not agree with it. The proper procedure is to make a note of it and give your side of the story when it’s your turn to speak.
  9. Child support is always subject to review and can NOT be waived. On the other hand, maintenance (also called spousal support or alimony) can be waived, and if waived at the final hearing the waiver is permanent and final.  
  10. At a hearing, with few exceptions, the court cannot issue an order or take action unless the subject matter of the order or action has been property noticed to all parties ahead of time.
  11. There are limits on when a parent can request a change in custody or placement of their children.  It is highly recommended that you retain a lawyer in all cases in which custody or placement is contested.
  12. The Court is not able to appoint attorneys in family cases, except in contempt proceedings where a jail sentence is contemplated.

There are exceptions to most of these guidelines.  It is highly recommended that you speak with an attorney if you have additional questions.  Court staff cannot give legal advice.