What is a Virtual Hearing

So many things in our world have changed due to Covid-19, and how the justice system is hearing cases is one of them. Family Matters Law Group, your source for a Henry County GA family law attorney, is here to help you navigate the legal system during this time. The most personalized and in-depth information is best explored in a one-on-one consultation with our attorneys, but here’s an introduction to what you can expect from a virtual court hearing.

A Court Without Walls

First of all, think of a virtual hearing as a remote courtroom. Everything you would expect from a hearing in a physical court will be present, except that the judge, attorneys, and all the participants relevant to your case will be appearing from different locations. You’ll be able to appear from your home, office, or any other location where you’re able to minimize distractions and background noise. Keep in mind that even though you’ll be connecting through a computer or phone via Zoom or another virtual conferencing program, a virtual hearing occurs in a legally binding court of law.

Virtual Court Conduct

Take your appearance in court seriously, whether in person or virtual. Show respect to the judge, and the officers of the court. Conduct yourself politely, and stay calm. Additionally don’t plan on doing anything during your virtual appearance that you wouldn’t also do if you were physically in the courtroom. Don’t smoke or vape. Don’t eat or drink, besides a reasonable glass of water. Wear the type of clothing that your attorney has recommended to you. You want to appear neat, and formal, in order to show respect to the judge, courtroom, and the proceedings.

Minimize Distractions

Try your very best to make sure there is no music, television, or other noise in the background at your location. Mute yourself when not speaking. You would be surprised at what your microphone can pick up. You may need to get a sitter for your children. If they’re old enough to be alone in another room, try to find the best spot as far away from them as you can. If that’s not possible in your home, you can even appear in your car. You want to make sure your children don’t hear their parents testifying about matters that apply to them such as custody and visitation agreements, or that will indirectly affect them such as your separation or divorce hearing.

Watch Your Back

Make sure to check your background before going live from your computer or phone. Make sure there’s nothing that can be seen in the background that could affect your case negatively. A good rule of thumb is this: if it’s something you wouldn’t want your boss at work to see, make sure it cannot be seen behind you when you’re on camera for your hearing. 

Words to the Wise

You want to put your best foot forward to give yourself the best chance of success. You want the court to decide in your favor, so do your best to make sure they have no reason to doubt your sincerity. If you take your appearance in court seriously, so will they. 

Assume that everything you say will be heard. Glitches in technology could mean that your microphone is on when you think you may already be muted. Your facial expressions and body language are obvious on screen. It’s possible that your lips can be read while you’re on camera. So, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want the court to hear. Don’t make rude gestures or show annoyance on your face if you can help it. If you need to consult with your attorney during the proceedings, at an appropriate time, make sure your microphone is muted and call your attorney privately or ask to be placed in a breakout room with your attorney. 

That’s a Wrap!

Do not assume your court appearance is over until you close out of the meeting. That applies even if the judge has already left the virtual court. After all the work and careful planning of your attorney, and the preparations you’ve made for your hearing, you would not want careless conduct or an inappropriate conversation to affect your case. No matter how you’re feeling, whether upset, frustrated by your ex, or annoyed at the judge, wait to vent after you’re completely finished in court. Call your Family Matters Law Group Atlanta family court attorney if you have further questions about your hearing.