If you have never been to court, notification of your first court appearance can be  terrifying. The legal system, the acrimony of divorce, the adversarial posture of attorneys all can trigger anxiety. Here are some things you can do to make the day a bit easier and less intimidating.

  •        Have your lawyer brief you in detail as to where to go and what to expect. Many women are concerned about having to testify. Your attorney, or perhaps her/his legal assistant, can fill you in on what to expect.
  •        Know where you are going. Take a trial run the week before so you know where you are going, where to park, how long it takes to get there. It helps to go in to the building and walk around. Familiarizing yourself with the surroundings helps diminish the unknown and, consequently, minimize some of your fears.
  •        On the court day when your divorce is going to be finalized, take a friend/relative with you, or at least have plans to have lunch or met up with a friend after you leave. The moral support is invaluable. Having someone you know and trust at your side will make the process less daunting.
  •        Bring a good book or something else to help quell your anxiety and help pass the time as you wait.
  •        Wear something you are comfortable in, but not necessarily something you like a lot. Sometimes we associate different outfits with different events. You may not be able to look at that outfit without thinking, “Divorce Dress.”
  •        Use visual imagery. Ellen envisioned all the court players as animals in a barnyard. Just thinking of her husband’s attorney as a donkey helped diminish her anxiety and lightened her mood significantly.
  •        Practice detachment. Make believe you are a reporter or a critic, sitting in on someone else’s divorce. The emotional distance can help you keep perspective and listen without as much emotion.
  •         Your attorney is there to protect your interest. Do not hesitate to ask questions and look to him/her for advice. If unsure, ask.
  •        Don’t lose your cool. You will feel better about yourself if you act with dignity. Remember, we can’t control the behavior of others, but we can control our own behavior.

Confronting our fears makes us stronger. When your day in court is over, you will feel many things. One thing you will feel is the conviction of your own courage.

As you prepare for court, acquire the necessary knowledge, be gentle with yourself, and ask for support. Do everything you can to diminish your anxiety. Today is another opportunity to learn that just because something scares you, that doesn’t mean you can’t handle it.


 © 2013 Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Farmington, CT since 1986. She is the author of the award winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback


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