Tips for Oklahoma Fathers:
Show up on time. Allow plenty of extra time. Plan to be at the courthouse 30 minutes early.
Dress appropriately. No shorts, flip flops, tank tops, etc. First impressions go a long way, especially with the court. Dress as you would for a professional job interview. A shirt and tie are good, throw on a jacket and it’s even better. Your appearance and the manner in which you present yourself can have a big impact on how you are perceived by the judge.
No cell phones in the courtroom. Want to find yourself under a rock before you even see the judge, take a cell phone in the courtroom and let it ring, vibrate, or let the judge see you texting, checking email, etc. NO CELL PHONES.
Anything you say, type, text, etc., is probably being recorded. At all times you should conduct yourself as if the Judge was there watching.
Visit the courthouse and sit in on a few hearings if you can. The best way to get a feel for how your judge operates is to watch other hearings. This will give you an idea of what you can expect while you are there, and you may even be lucky enough to see what the judge likes and does not like.
Do not interrupt the judge, opposing counsel, or opposing party. Don’t roll your eyes, gasp, cuss under your breath, give a death stare to your ex, etc. It can be extremely hard to remain cool when the other side is making ridiculous allegations. The court is watching. Your behavior will play a HUGE role in how the court perceives you. This is really important and is 100% within your control. Be smart.
In court, do not talk directly to your opponent. All comments and argument should be to the judge and not include any side conversations with your opposing party. Again, the manner in which you present yourself can have a huge impact on your case.
When testifying, answer only the question asked. If you can answer with one word do so. If not, answer with the fewest amount of words possible. If you don’t know, don’t guess, say you don’t know. If you don’t understand the question say so. If you are unsure about how to answer something that you know the other side will bring up, ask your attorney and they will help you to put together the most effective response. The less you say the better. LESS IS MORE.
NEVER say “my” kids. ALWAYS “our” kids. ALWAYS. Don’t forget!
In court, be 100% truthful 100% of the time. Don’t try to outsmart or out think the system.
Follow all court orders to the letter. This is worth saying again. Follow all court orders to the letter! Even if the other side is doing everything but following the order, you need to follow the order. Sure way to damage your case is to ignore court orders.
Bring a notebook with you to court. You're going to want to take notes. Your attorney can only listen to one person at a time. If someone else is talking and you try to whisper in your lawyer’s ear they are not going to hear either one of you.
Leave emotions outside the courthouse. Family law courts are courts of equity as opposed to criminal law courts which are courts of law. Family court is designed to resolve disputes, period. If you settle a case you have maintained complete control over the outcome, you are the master of your own destiny. If you allow the court to decide your case, the judge is the master of your destiny. A judge does not have to live with the consequences of their decisions, you do. Sometimes trial is the only option, but if it can be avoided it is almost always better to choose your own terms. Use logic not emotions.
For Divorce cases, there is a required Children in the Middle class every parent must complete. For paternity cases, it can be a huge boost to your case if you voluntarily complete a parenting class. http://www.ccfinorman.org/divorce-and-co-parenting-services/
She may accuse you of one or more of the following: She will say you use drugs, drink too much, or are violent. Best way to beat this right off the bat: If you think she might make allegations of drug use, take a hair follicle drug test and bring the results to your hearing. If you think that she will say there is alcohol abuse, do an alcohol assessment and bring the results with you. If you think she will say you are violent, do a domestic violence assessment and bring with you to court. This may seem like jumping through a lot of hoops but being prepared can make a big difference.
NEVER discuss court or your case with your kids. NEVER discuss court or your case anywhere where there is even the most remote chance your kids could hear the conversation. NEVER allow anyone else to discuss court anywhere where there is even the most remote chance your kids could hear. Don’t do it!