Courtroom Etiquette, Part Two

In the second half of our two part blog, we continue to look at issues of courtroom etiquette that you should know heading into your divorce hearing. How you behave in court and the reverence you show can go a long way towards getting a favorable opinion.

Keep The Negativity To A Minimum

For the majority of your court case, your attorney will be speaking for you. However, there will be times when you are asked a question directly by the judge or that you have to elaborate on an answer. Now is not the time to let your negative emotions out. Even if you believe your spouse is a demon from the depths of hell, it looks bad for you to be angry, bitter, or hateful towards them in court.

The problem with letting your emotions get the best of you is that people are left wondering if that is how you are outside of court. Even worse, is that how you behave around your children? Of course you may hear things in court from the opposing side that you know are untrue, but it is likely a tactic to get you to curse and go off, which will ruin your case. Particularly in a custody case, where the judge is trying to assess your demeanor, getting angry will make them question whether you can hold it together with your kids.

The key thing is to stay calm. It may be very difficult to do that, especially if you are being accused of some kind of abusive behavior. Follow your attorney’s lead, bite your tongue, and stay calm. Responding with anger in court allows the opposing side to claim that you have anger control issues. Also, remember that there is a transcript, so everything you say can be read back at a later time. That won’t be helpful if you need to appeal a decision. 

Don’t Play The Tough Guy

Men, in particular, don’t like to talk about embarrassing things in court, or something that is going to make them look like the weaker party. It is natural to want to look like a tough guy, a man’s man, especially if you are in a situation where your wife has been abusive.

In divorce court, honesty is the best policy. If you know that your spouse has substance abuse issues, a mental illness, or has been abusive (yes, men can be victims of domestic violence), you need to speak up and not sugarcoat the issue. It’s not about your image — it’s about presenting an accurate and realistic assessment of the household to the court.

If something serious is going on, and you downplay it or try to avoid the discussion out of fear of embarrassment, you will come across as if you have something to hide (i.e. honesty issues) or that you feel like the situation is not a big deal, when in fact it really is.

It would be a shame to not present any evidence that would help the judge rule in your favor. It would also be a shame if you gave the judge a reason to doubt your honesty and credibility.  Be upfront and honest with your attorney so that they can help create a proactive game plan for how you will address serious issues in court.

Show Respect To The Judge

It is vital that you take extra special care to show respect to the one person in the courtroom that holds your fate in their hands. Even if the judge talks down to you or is rude, you still must show nothing but respect in return. Failure to do so could result in you being held in contempt and land you in jail.

When the judge enters or leaves the courtroom, you are expected to stand. You always address the judge as “your honor” and only speak to them at appropriate times. It goes without saying that you should never raise your voice at the judge. Also, once the judge has issued a ruling, thank them for their time and do not criticize or question the ruling. If you need to vent, you do it with your attorney behind closed doors.

Following basic rules of courtroom etiquette can make a huge difference when it comes to your case. Put your best foot forward and keep the courtroom etiquette rules in your head at all times.

Family Matters Law Group is an experienced, highly rated law firm in Henry County that serves clients across the Atlanta metro area.  Setting up an initial consultation is easy — simply contact us online or by phone. We’re ready to hear your story and fight hard for your children and your assets.