During divorce and other legal proceedings, many people hope they never have to appear in court. However, sometimes litigation is necessary and court appearances are part of the process. The impression you make on the judge will have an effect on the outcome of your case. For this reason, it pays to understand the court etiquette that a judge expects when attending a hearing or other court proceeding.
Here are few guidelines to follow for court etiquette (Nolo.com):
- Dress conservatively and as if you were going for a professional job interview. A suit, dress or pantsuit is ideal but the most important factor to keep in mind is you should wear attire that shows respect for the judge. Do not wear shorts, flip-flops, halter-tops, t-shirts, jeans or tank tops.
- Be punctual. Make sure you arrive on time for the scheduled legal proceeding.
- Show respect to the judge. Stand when the judge enters and leaves the courtroom. Address the judge as “Your Honor” and not as “Judge,” “Sir” or “Ma’am.”
- Show respect for other lawyers, witnesses and parties in the case. Do not argue with the opposing party or the party’s attorney. Do not react to show your displeasure regarding other’s responses. Do not give flippant answers when asked a question. Do not react in anger, make emotional gestures, laugh or appear smug.
- Turn off your cell phone. Ringing cell phones, texting or talking on phones conveys disrespect for the judge and for the court proceeding that is in progress.
- Speaking. Answer questions clearly and answer loudly enough to be heard. If you do not understand a question, ask the questioner to repeat or clarify the question. Only speak when asked and when your attorney indicates you should answer or advises you as to what to say. Do not interrupt anyone.
- Do not bring your child. Even though your divorce addresses child custody, it is not appropriate to bring your child to court. Your children should not be provided with information relating to adult disputes. Judges really look down on parents who expose their children to their conflicts. The only exception to bringing a child to court is when you’re instructed by the court or your attorney to do so.
C.E. Norman & Associates assists clients with family law, divorce, probate and estate planning concerns.