If you are going through a contested divorce, you may need to appear in court for a divorce hearing. Just like any other court date, there is an etiquette that needs to be followed for appropriate behavior. While this is an incredibly emotional and stressful event, it’s imperative to keep a cool head. We’re going to run through some helpful tips to make your appearance in divorce court relatively painless. Creating a positive impression for the judge will help you in the long run. If you are in need of a divorce lawyer, call us at the Law Office of Tobie Kuykendall. We’ll fight for you!
The first thing to consider is how you will dress for your appearance in court. If you want to start off on the right foot and make a positive impression, professional clothing is absolutely required. Wearing the same clothes you would wear for a very important job interview will go a long way. This is not a casual situation, and your clothes shouldn’t be casual either. Suits with a tie, conservative dresses, and minimal makeup and jewelry are all recommended. Do not wear a hat or cap in the courtroom. If you are unsure, your lawyer will be able to advise you on what you should wear.
-Get There Early
Your case will not be the only one scheduled for the day. If you are late, it creates delays both in your hearing and the others that are set to be heard. This will also form a very negative impression of you, which will become a factor in judgments rendered in your case. By arriving early, you’ll have time to prepare and get into the right mindset for the events of the day. If for whatever reason, you are going to be late due to circumstances out of your control, it’s imperative you contact your lawyer immediately. That will allow them to make proper arrangements and reschedule the hearing if absolutely necessary.
-Adhere to Court Rules
Every courtroom in America has a set of rules that need to be followed. Rules like standing when the judge enters the room, following any instructions given by court officials, sitting upright and paying attention are just the start. Don’t eat or drink anything in the courtroom. Dispose of chewing gum before entering the court. Make sure your phone is turned off, as you don’t want it to ring and cause a disturbance. Your future is being decided here; be on your best behavior.
-Keep Your Cool
We know how emotional a divorce hearing can be. You might be feeling a lot of anger or sadness, and that’s completely understandable. It’s recommended you let your lawyer do the bulk of the talking, as they will have a better plan for how to proceed. That will allow you to stay calm, focus on the facts, and follow any instruction you may be given. Hold back emotions and stay focused on the proceedings. Stay respectful and don’t lose your temper. The judge will be paying close attention to your actions, so stay positive and professional.
-Be Thoughtful and Confident
The judge may ask you questions over the course of the hearing. When answering, take your time and choose your words well. If you don’t have an answer, say that you don’t know. Lying will only go poorly for you, so be honest. A judge’s whole job is determining who is lying and who is being truthful; don’t test it. Be courteous when others are talking and do not interrupt. When it is your turn to speak, do it clearly, concisely, and answer questions directly.
-Leave Your Partner At Home
If you are in a situation where you have a new significant other, do not bring them to the hearing. It only invites the possibility of chaos and is best avoided entirely. If the case includes child custody and your new partner is going to be involved in the child’s life and upbringing, consult your lawyer before bringing them to court.
As soon as you walk into the courtroom, you need to treat everyone respectfully. Refer to the judge as ‘Your Honor’. Respond with a ‘Yes Ma’am’ or a ‘No Sir’ when you’re on the witness stand. Your respect towards everyone involved in the case reflects directly on you and everything you do is taken into consideration. Don’t give them negative or disrespectful behavior to use against you.
-Organization is Key
There is a lot of paperwork involved in a divorce case. Work together with your lawyer to get a clear understanding of your case. They will be able to advise you on what documents you will need to have on hand and how to keep them organized for ease of access. Keeping these documents in a file folder will make it easy to bring into the courtroom. It also looks more professional than having a bunch of clutter to sort through.
Following these steps will help make your day in divorce court a drama-free event. Adhering to courtroom etiquette will make your case stronger. The content of your character will be under strict scrutiny, so it’s best to avoid anything that would paint you in a bad light. Remember, every action you make in court affects the terms of your divorce. If you need legal counsel to assist you through your divorce, call us at the Law Office of Tobie Kuykendall. We have the years of experience and knowledge to help you get through this tough time and start on the road to your future.