Sunday, March 18, 2012

What to wear and how to behave in Family Court

What people wear to court and how they behave in the courthouse can make a difference in how the court treats them.   Whether you are in court with a lawyer or as a pro-se litigant, how the court views your appearance and behaviour can affect your case.  This is true for all types of actions from contested divorce to a non-contested adoption.  You always want to make a good impression on the Judge.

Dress respectfully.

The Judge holds your fate in the palm of the Judge's hand. You should act as if you want to please the judge at every opportunity. I frequently describe the way to dress as the way people dress when going to church. It is a formal setting. No shorts, halter tops, or stained or torn clothing. Clothing that is very fashionable may be too revealing for a court setting. Clothes that are too sexy may offend a Judge.

Dress the part.

Don't cry poverty and wear an expensive watch or carry an expensive purse. If you are appearing in court requesting money from your spouse, you don't want to appear as a person who lives beyond their means. Wearing the latest fashions may help your spouse when they claim you are hiding money.

Act respectfully

A court room is a place where people come to argue. They argue with their spouse and with the Judge. However, argument can be respectful and still be effective. Don't interrupt people. Let every one finish what they are saying. Don't raise your voice. If you raise your voice, you are likely to hurt your case because the Judge may limit your argument just to prevent you from getting more excited. Don't swear or call your opponent names. It is not uncommon for a judge to stop a person in the middle of an argument to admonish them to respect the other party.

Avoid Offensive behavior.

Offensive behavior is not limited to words. It includes all behavior in the courthouse. If a problem occurs in the courthouse, a court officer will learn about it and report the incident to the Judge. Remember that a court officer has the power to arrest people who don't behave. A Judge has the power to declare a person in contempt of court for actions done in the building.

While a court is a public building, you should avoid bringing a boy friend or girl friend to court. The presence of this person is likely to be offensive to your spouse and to the Judge.

Avoid drawing attention to yourself in the courthouse. Shut off your cell phone. Don't chew gum, eat food, or read a newspaper while waiting for your case to be called. While the Judge is in the courtroom, you should never talk unless the Judge gives you permission to speak. You don't want the Judge to ask what was so important that you had to speak and disrupt the court's business.

If you have questions about how to prepare and dress for court you should consult an experienced divorce lawyer for advice.


  1. Private legal cases are sometimes the only way for individuals to declare the privileges provided to them by law.

    accident lawyer milwaukee

  2. Thanks for sharing. People need to understand that what they wear and how they act can greatly influence what a jury and judge think of you. It's important to always remember this and to be on your best behavior!
    delivery Dedham, MA