Appearance and Behavior Matter - Going to Court

In the last twenty years, America has become a very “dressed down” place. The standards about what is considered acceptable dress for public appearances are much more relaxed and informal than a generation ago.

A court appearance, however, is not a place to go casual. Judges are only human, and they cannot help but notice the dress and behavior of parties who appear before them.

Whether it is a divorce trial or an appearance in court in connection with a modification of custody or visitation, a conservative, neat appearance goes miles in the direction of a good first impression. For men this means coats and ties; for women, a dress or skirt or pants suit. T-shirts, jeans, jackets with the sleeves ripped off – all send out a message that judges do not appreciate.

Good court behavior is restrained and courteous.

No one should ever interrupt the judge when he or she is speaking. In court, the judge gives the parties permission to speak. No one should speak to the judge in the second person, that is, refer to him or her as “you.” A judge is addressed as “your honor.” In court, everyone speaks in turn and no one should ever interrupt someone who is speaking or make faces or display emotion when the opposing counsel is speaking, no matter what the opposing party is saying. No one should ever raise his or her voice or shout at an estranged spouse or his or her legal counsel.

Needless to say, everyone should appear in court a little ahead of the scheduled time. And everyone should always tell the truth.

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