PREPARE FOR COURT
Under Vermont divorce laws, you will probably need to go to court one or more times before your divorce is finished. How do you prepare to do this? First, we’ll discuss some general tips for preparing for your court hearing. Then, we’ll provide an overview of some of the types of court appointments you might have.
General Tips on Preparing for a Divorce Hearing.
When your court appointment is scheduled, you will receive a notice of the time and place of the appointment in the mail. The first thing you should do is make sure you know where the court house is located! Then give yourself plenty of time to find a place to park the car, get through security, and be on time for your appointment. Sometimes it is hard to predict how long it will take to get inside the building if there’s a line to get through security. This depends on what county you’re in and what day of the week it is. Some county court houses have very little security, while others have metal detectors and multiple police officers checking people in.
Don't Forget Security
Before walking in the door of the courthouse, check to make sure you aren’t carrying anything that cause a problem with security. Many times I’ve reminded my clients of this on the courthouse steps only to find that a client or witness is carrying a pocketknife, a screwdriver in a back pocket, pepper spray in a handbag, or a painkiller they don’t have a prescription for. Leave these things at home or in you car!
Look for Your Room and Time of Appointment
When you get through security, look for a posting of the day’s appointments and hearings. Most courts will post a printout that will show your name, the room number, and the time of the appointment. These can change at the last minute, which is why it’s a good idea to look for it as soon as you get to court.
Note that sometimes your name will not be listed because the case is marked “confidential.” In this case, the listing will say “Confidential Civil Case” followed by the case number. Check this number against any correspondence from the court to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time. If you don’t see your name or case number, check with the court officer (a police officer that is usually a county sheriff's deputy) in charge of the courtroom. Usually, this officer will be in the hallway outside of the courtroom, checking that people have arrived for their appointments. If not, the court officer may be in the courtroom already.