Divorce Courtroom Etiquette

Although court is often viewed as a last resort, some cases do end up in the courtroom. How you present in court can be just as important as your actual testimony.  In divorce court, issues are often he-said, she said.  First impressions are formed quickly and credibility determinations are of paramount importance.

Here are some suggestions on how to present your best:

1) Appropriate dress

For men, you can never go wrong wearing a suit to court. If you do not have a suit, a shirt and tie will work or a shirt and jacket without a tie. For women, a suit is not necessary. However, a nice blouse with slacks or a skirt is appropriate. For a mother seeking custody, you want to present like a wholesome mom. For men or women, it is never appropriate to wear jeans, hats/caps, soiled clothing, or anything that shows too much skin. The idea is to look respectful.

2) No cell phones

Many judges will hold you in contempt or fine you if they hear your phone or if they see you typing on one. Even a phone set on vibrate can be heard in a quiet courtroom. If you must bring your phone, turn it off or at least put it on silent.

3) Treat the judge with the utmost respect

Address the judge as “your honor” or “judge.” Only speak directly to the judge if they address you first or your attorney directs you to. Never interrupt a judge or yell at a judge.

4) Act respectfully in the courtroom

Sometimes you will be in the courtroom while the judge is handling another case. Do not make any unnecessary noise that could disrupt the other proceeding. Also, if you need to speak to your attorney or another individual, do so softly. Better yet, write a note or step out of the courtroom.

5) Be on time

If you are late, the judge may dismiss your case or hold you in contempt. Plan to arrive early and be sure to allow extra time for parking and to get through security.

Best of luck in court.

If you would like to sit down and talk about your divorce case, here is how to get started.

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