Appearing In Court
Before the Hearing
· Prepare what you want to tell the commissioner.
· Have 3 copies of any exhibits (1 original & 2 copies).
· Make appropriate arrangements for your children to stay with someone during the hearing.
At the Hearing
· Dress and act in a professional and businesslike manner.
· Arrive on time.
· When your case is first called, stand and let the commissioner know that you are present.
When Your Case is Called For Hearing
· Go up and be seated at one of the tables in front of the commissioner’s bench.
· If you are the party bringing the action, you will present your case first. The other party will then have a chance to present their case. The Court will give each party a chance to respond to each other’s cases.
· Direct all comments to the commissioner. Do not address the other party directly.
· Do not interrupt the commissioner while he or she is talking to you or to the other party.
· Do not argue with and/or interrupt the other party while he or she is talking to the commissioner.
· Keep focused on the issues of the dispute.
· Address the commissioner as “Your Honor.”
· Write down the Court’s orders as they are being made. Be sure you understand all orders being made. If you are unsure, it is okay to ask the Court to further explain the order(s).
How to Introduce Evidence at the Hearing
Hand the original document to the bailiff and ask the Court that it be “marked for identification.” The bailiff will hand the document to the court clerk who will give the document a letter or number designator. Give a copy of the document to the other party. Once the document has been marked for identification, it will be handed to the commissioner. You can then tell the Court what the document is and why it is important to your case. Once you are through telling the commissioner about the document, you must ask that the document be “offered into evidence.” The other party will have an opportunity to ask questions about the document being admitted into evidence. Keep track of all documents you mark for identification to be sure they are entered into evidence.
Child support is typically determined by the Court using a state guideline formula. This formula is based on a number of factors including the number of children to be supported, income of each party, and the percentage of time each parent spends with the children. Each party should file a completed Income and Expense Declaration before the hearing.
After the Hearing
If the Court makes an order, you will be mailed a filed copy of it.