Courtroom Etiquette, Part One

Everyone knows that there is a certain way to behave in court. What you may not know is that failure to follow the rules of courtroom etiquette can cost you dearly in a divorce case.

In the courtroom, you are there to make an appearance, to show the court that you can show respect, make a good impression, and follow the rules. Showing out or acting the fool can only make you look bad and lead the judge to think of you as irresponsible and disrespectful.

In this two part blog, Family Matters Law Group shares some basic courtroom etiquette so you can put your best foot forward in front of the judge.

How Would You Behave In A Job Interview?

Your divorce hearing works the same way as a job interview. You need to make a good impression on everyone in the courtroom. How you interact with the judge, the various attorneys, and even the courtroom staff goes a long way towards illustrating your character and the level of respect you have for the Court.

While you probably won’t be asked to speak much, think about not only what you say, but how you say it. Flying off at the handle when asked to give your side of the story or calling your ex names is a sure fire way to let the court know that you are unstable and are the problem. You want to come across as logical and level headed as you possibly can, because the judge is going to make a decision based on his overall impression of you in court.

Think of the judge as a boss who is interviewing you for a job. How would you behave in that situation? How would you speak to a potential employer?

Watch Your Nonverbal Communication

Body language can speak volumes. You may not be speaking, but if you are in front of a judge rolling your eyes, clenching your fists, shaking your head, or generally doing your best to let people know how angry or upset you are, the judge is definitely going to notice and they will not be pleased. 

It’s time for you to put on your best poker face and be as unemotional as you can. You are being watched the whole time you are in court, even when someone else is speaking. It will be difficult, but you need to try and remain neutral no matter what is said. Your attorney is there to be your voice and fight for your best interests. Don’t undercut them.

Also, posture is important. If you’re slouched in your seat or hunched over at the desk, or if you are constantly fidgeting (i.e. biting your nails, moving your legs) you are not projecting confidence and assertiveness. Sit up straight and pay attention to what is going on around you. Project a good image through your body language.

Odds And Ends

Here are a few more tips for courtroom etiquette:

Leave the electronic devices at home. It is considered very rude for you to be texting. What is more important than your own divorce hearing? Even if you are waiting in the back of the room, even if your phone is on silent or vibrate, it will be distracting. 

Don’t bring children or your new girlfriend to court. Make arrangements for child care. It’s not fair to make your minor children wait around all day in court with no outlet to entertain themselves. Likewise, no judge on Earth is going to appreciate you finding a new fling while your divorce isn’t even finalized. Leave the girlfriend at home.

Let your lawyer do their job. They will let you know what the expectations are for court. They’ll also let you know when to ask questions and when to speak. Otherwise, sit back and let them do what you are paying them to do.

Don’t sabotage your own case by failing to follow simple rules of courtroom etiquette. With so much riding on the outcome, you want to make a good impression and put your best foot forward.

If you’re in Henry, Clayton, or Fayette counties, or live in the Atlanta metro area, Family Matters Law Group is ready to fight hard for your children and your assets. While we are selective about our cases, once on board, you can expect us to give 110% to your case. Contact us today for an initial consultation.