At some point in time during your divorce you will likely have to go to court. It may be for a motion, an order to show cause or attend your uncontested divorce hearing. However, if your divorce is going to trial then you will definitely be spending time in the courtroom in front of a judge. Obviously, this may feel intimidating, but I provide some tips below to help you manage this situation.
The following are some tips to help prepare you for a divorce court appearance:
- Don’t be late. This seems pretty obvious, but really arrive on time. It’s all about respect.
- Leave your attitude at home. Do not make faces or gestures when the judge or your spouse’s attorney is speaking. Judges see this and do not appreciate it.
- Dress appropriately. I am sure you have heard the expression “You can’t judge a book by its cover”. Unfortunately some judges will, so why take the chance. Make a positive impression. Men should wear slacks, a jacket and a tie. Women should wear a skirt or dress slacks and a modest blouse. There is no place in the courtroom for jeans, shorts, revealing clothes or flip flops. If you are not sure how to dress for court, consult your attorney on how he/she wants you to dress.
- If you have an attorney do not speak during the hearing unless asked to do so by the Judge.
- “Your Honor” is the appropriate (only) way to address the Judge.
- Always thank the Judge when you are finished speaking. Always be respectful while in court.
- Only speak when you are spoken to. Never speak to or make comments to your opposition when you are before the Judge. If you need to communicate with your divorce attorney, write it on a notepad.
- Take notes. Don’t leave anything to chance. Your attorney will be very busy during the process and cannot remember or write everything down. Keep your courtroom notes to refer back to if you cannot remember something. This will be far less expensive than calling your attorney to refresh your memory and it will give you a task to do while other people are testifying.
- Do not take children, or your whole family, into the courtroom unless told to do so by your attorney. This is your divorce rather than your children’s and they should not hear what goes on in that courtroom. If you feel you need moral support during the trial, pick one person to bring with you. While it should go without saying that person should not be your new boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Be prepared. It is better to have too much ammunition than not enough.
- Bring a book to read as you might have a long wait before your case is heard.
Geoffrey S. Platnick
Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield, P.C.
1201 Seven Locks Road, Suite 360-7B
Potomac, Maryland 20854
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