In this must-read column for anyone going into a court hearing on child custody, Denver divorce lawyer Edra Pollin puts her finger on some bothersome things I've been noticing about clients' behavior lately but which I haven't heard anyone else talk about -- such as people who routinely say "my kids" instead of "our kids."
I only disagree with her on a couple things, probably based on state-to-state differences in what judges like. For one thing, we usually like for our clients to have close relatives and friends there for a contested hearing, especially on child custody.
And when she says, "Don't tell long winded stories with irrelevant details of your spousal disputes," that is generally very good advice, especially in custody cases, but in Virginia some of that is legitimately part of the testimony in trials on divorce and property division. Our courts can divide the property, or particular assets, differently based on the causes of the divorce (including but not limited to the "grounds" of the divorce) and the contributions to the marriage - economic and non-economic, positive and negative. Generally, that stuff doesn't make enough difference to be worth going to trial, but if you're going to trial anyway, it's usually worthwhile to testify about it and see how the cookie crumbles.