There is a great deal of valuable and reliable information available for divorce litigants regarding how Montana family law works and where to find forms to file. However, there seems to be a lack of information on how divorce procedure works. This leaves many litigants, particularly unrepresented litigants, completely terrified of walking into court. Though it is impossible to convey the finer points of trial advocacy through a blog, some basic tips about what to expect when you walk in to court can help ease some of that anxiety.
Over the next several weeks I will blog about Montana divorce and parenting hearings and trials – how they work, what happens, and how to prepare. Because the bulk of my practice is in Flathead County District Court in Kalispell, this series is most relevant to my local court. Scheduling, practice and procedure can very from county to county and even from judge to judge. Because of that, I strongly urge anyone with a hearing/trial to go and observe their local court and the judge specifically assigned to their case. In Kalispell, you can access each of the Judges’ court schedules (also known as the “docket”) online. Nearly all court proceedings are open to the public, so do not hesitate to go see the courtroom, watch your judge in action, and become familiar with how your judge runs her/his courtroom. I find that seeing where your hearing/trial will take place and watching how your judge works calms a massive amount of those pre-hearing jitters.
If you are involved in a divorce case, you can pick out a hearing for another divorce case. You will know it is a divorce case because the case will be called “In re Marriage of____.” For parenting cases, find a case called “In re Parenting of ______.” Though the online docket does not tell you what kind of hearing it is (i.e. child support, contempt, interim parenting, etc.), you can always contact the Clerk of District Court to find out what kind of motion the hearing is about.