Prior to heading into the courtroom, your attorney will most likely give you a brief overview about what the initial court appearance will be like, feel like, and most importantly, what will be addressed. Ideally, you would want your divorce to be handled outside of court, in mediation, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Here are a few things to keep in mind before your first date in court.
- Mind your manners: Acting inappropriately in court, regardless of who it is directed at, can ruin your case, and even your life. Getting on a judge’s bad side can only work against you, as if they get upset with you, there is a good chance they will remember that for the length of the case. When it comes to settlement time, you need the judge to think of you in a positive light, especially if you are involved in a custody battle.
- Ask your attorney to take you to the courthouse prior to the trial date. There, you can see how people dress and carry themselves, as well as get a preview of how the trial might go. Dress formally, as you want to look serious and civil in court.
- On the actual date, you would rather be there early than late.
- Never, under any circumstances, interrupt the judge. See the first tip.
- Try not to address the other party; look at and talk to the judge. There should be no side conversations at all. Say thank you to the judge at the end of the hearing, regardless of the outcome.
- Check in the bailiff in court, stating your name and case name so it is known that you have arrived.
- Don’t interrupt the opposing party; you will be given the chance to speak and respond to their statements. You can also politely ask to respond to the last question, which will often be granted.
This will be a new environment for you, and you should trust your attorney to properly prepare you for your day in court. You should carry yourself as if the judge’s opinion of you matters – because it does.