How to prepare for various stages of the family law process Dustin Gibb April 29, 2024

How to prepare for various stages of the family law process

Family Law Process Stages: Essential Preparation Guide

Domestic matters are stressful and unfamiliar. However, with thorough preparation and a clear understanding of the family law process, you can navigate this process with confidence and maximize your chances of a successful outcome. At Gibb Law, we’ll guide you through each step effectively and work to obtain the best outcome possible. 

Family law encompasses a wide range of cases, including child custody disputes, child support disagreements, divorce proceedings, and matters concerning parental rights and child protective services. Each case type has specific procedures and terminology. Here are some key terms to familiarize yourself with:

  • Temporary Orders Hearing: Most family law cases can’t wait until trial to have court orders put in place. If parents can’t agree on visitation for their kids during the pendency of a custody case, they’ll need a temporary court order to know where their kids will spend their time. If one spouse is in need of child or spousal support (alimony), it may be necessary to ask the court for temporary orders to ensure both sides financial needs are met. Other orders the court can enter on a temporary basis: which party will remain in the marital home; which party will pay certain bills; which party will make major decisions about a child; and so on.  
  • Mediation: Before a case can proceed to trial, the parties are required to attend mediation in good faith. This is an opportunity for the parties and their attorneys to work with a well-qualified, neutral, mediator in the hope of reaching a partial or global resolution. Most cases are resolved at mediation. 
  • Trial: If a case is not resolved at mediation, the next step is typically to take the matter to trial and allow the judge to make final decisions. All relevant evidence is presented to the judge, along with testimony of experts, if necessary. Approximately 3% – 5% of cases proceed to trial.  Gibb Law has handled many trials and will put you in a position to succeed. 

Gathering and Organizing Documentation

Strong evidence is essential in family law matters. Meticulously gather all relevant documents, including:

  • Financial records (bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns) to support financial claims in matters like child support or asset division.
  • Custody agreements (if applicable) outlining existing parenting time arrangements.
  • Communication records (emails, texts, letters) relevant to your case, serving as evidence of agreements made or timelines of events.
  • Official documents and photos relevant to your case.

Building a Strong Case


A well-organized case presentation strengthens your position. Consider these steps:

  • Research: Familiarize yourself with child support guidelines in your state, especially if child support is a factor in your case. Understanding these calculations can aid negotiations.
  • Detailed Parenting Plans: If child custody is an issue, consider creating a comprehensive parenting plan outlining visitation (parenting time) arrangements. This demonstrates a commitment to stability for the kids.
  • Legal Representation: Consulting with a qualified family law attorney can be invaluable.

With Gibb Law at your side, we:

  • Demystify complex legal issues and ensure you understand your rights and obligations
  • Help you build a strong case
  • Ensure you have the important documentation to support your case
  • Leverage relevant case law to strengthen your arguments
  • Advocate for your interests in court and ensure all evidence is considered
  • Assist with drafting detailed parenting plans 

Many cases are resolved at mediation even before the family law process can initiate. In fact, before a case can go all the way to trial, the parties are required to attempt to resolve their case in mediation. During mediation, the parties are represented by their attorneys, and a qualified mediator (usually an experienced family law attorney or retired judge) will go back and forth in an attempt to bring the parties to an agreement. Creative agreements at mediation are typically preferable to the cost, delay, and stress of taking your case to trial. Gibb Law Firm has participated in hundreds of family law mediations.

Preparing for the Emotional Journey

Family court proceedings can be emotionally taxing. Here’s how to manage your stress:

  • Prioritize Self-Care: Maintain healthy routines with regular exercise and sleep to approach the situation with clarity and focus.
  • Cultivate Support Systems: Lean on trusted friends, family, or a therapist for emotional support and guidance.

Courtroom Etiquette

Understanding courtroom etiquette demonstrates respect for the court and strengthens your case presentation:

  • Professional Attire: Dress professionally to create a positive first impression. Avoid overly casual attire, such as jeans or t-shirts.
  • Punctuality Matters: Arrive early to demonstrate respect for the court’s time and avoid any unnecessary delays.
  • Maintain Composure: The opposing party or their attorney will certainly say things in court that you don’t like: misrepresentations, exaggerations, and outright falsehoods. Avoid demonstrative body language, eye-rolling, or noises. Trust your attorney to set the record straight. 

Navigating family court requires careful preparation and legal expertise which is what Gibb Law offers. By understanding the legalities, gathering documentation for the family law process, seek legal advice if needed, prepare emotionally, and follow proper courtroom etiquette; you can approach the complexities of the family court system with confidence and work towards a favorable outcome for you and your family.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice on family law issues. Please contact us to discuss the specifics of your situation.