There is an old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Nowhere is this more true than in a courtroom. If you are in the midst of a divorce or custody battle, how you act and how you look play a major role. Failure to act properly or look like you don’t care about your appearance and the judge is more likely to decide against you.
Let’s face it: if you can’t act properly in court, how can the judge know for sure that you can act properly around your children? If you don’t care about how you look or the impression you make in court, then how can the judge know that you care about your case?
At Family Matters Law Group, we’ve represented many clients in court and have won many cases. But, we instruct our clients carefully about the dos and don’ts of courtroom etiquette. Part of winning your case is how you present yourself.
The appropriate dress for court is business casual. For men, this means long pants, a shirt with sleeves, and a tie. Your shoes should be business shoes, not athletic ones. Remember, gentlemen, that a well-dressed man always wears the same color belt as his shoes. Also, a professional look requires a tie that is a solid color or check-patterned. That Georgia Tech Ramblin’ Wreck tie may be your favorite but don’t wear it to court.
For ladies, you want to wear a skirt or slacks with a nice blouse. A dress is also fine as long as it is not too revealing or slit up the side. That cocktail dress might look fantastic on you, but don’t wear it to court. Don’t wear any open-toed shoes and wear conservative makeup.
For both men and women, make sure you look clean with a nice haircut. Men need to trim their facial hair if they have any. How you look says a lot about how you conduct yourself. Make a good impression on the judge.
There are certain things you must do in a courtroom. The most important is to be on time. If your case is important to you, then make plans to be there ahead of time. Be in court at least 15-20 minutes before the start of your case. If you are right on time, you’re late.
In court, make sure you take off your hat and sunglasses if you have them. Also, turn off all electronic devices, including your cell phone.
Before your court date, review the general procedures for your specific courthouse with your attorney. They are your best source of information for what etiquette they expect you to follow in order for you to win your case.
The judge is not just another person who is going to rule on your case. Yes, they are the ultimate authority in that courtroom, but they also represent the law itself. You show respect for the law in a variety of ways.
Always be polite to everyone in court, no matter what side they are on. You don’t have to talk to anyone your attorney indicates not to, but you do need to at least be civil and polite. It goes without saying that you should not ever use profanity or rude gestures in a courtroom.
When the judge enters and leaves the room, you are expected to stand out of respect. The judge is always referred to as “Your Honor”. For other court officials, ask your attorney how to appropriately address them.
You may be tempted to blurt out something in the court or to express your frustration or anger. Don’t do it. More importantly, do not EVER talk over the judge or interrupt the judge when he or she is speaking. Your attorney is there to speak to the court on your behalf. It is considered extremely disrespectful to speak while the judge is speaking.
An experienced attorney, like Edidiong Aaron at Family Matters Law Group, can answer any questions you might have about how to conduct yourself in court. You may request a consultation via online contact form. It is vital for you to be aware of the courtroom etiquette that can help you win your case.