Preparing for your day in court

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

As with many social situations, courtrooms come with their own etiquette. Etiquette is the behavior that is customary or expected. Knowing the rules of conduct in a courtroom can be helpful with your family law case. 

It can be a challenge to know what is expected, especially if one is simply unfamiliar with the rhythms of a courtroom. Being acquainted with courtroom etiquette can help to avoid an embarrassing (and damaging) faux pas.

What is expected in a courtroom setting?

Part of preparing for your courtroom hearing is understanding what sort of behavior is expected from all parties. Here are some of the most basic courtroom etiquette you should know:

  • Addressing the judge: In family court, there may be times that you are required to speak directly to the judge when giving statements. It is common courtroom etiquette to address the judge as “Your Honor.”
  • Electronics: Technology such as cellular phones should be placed on “airplane mode” when in court to avoid receiving a phone call or text notification.
  • Punctuality: Courtroom dockets are usually full and it is important to be on time to ensure that you have ample time to be heard.
  • Clothing: Courtrooms inherently call for professional or business attire. Overly casual clothing or footwear should be avoided in a courtroom environment. Avoid shirts with graphics, flip-flops, torn clothing and the like.
  • Food and drink: Just like a job interview, it is never appropriate to show up with anything to eat or drink. This also applies to chewing gum, candy and lozenges.
  • Language: it is frowned upon to use profanity or slang in court. Additionally, a courtroom Is a very structured place where it is never appropriate to interrupt someone while they are speaking. 

Understanding how a courtroom operates can go a long way in making sure that you achieve the outcome that you hope to have. Showing respect, professionalism and preparedness when in court is a great way to show responsibility and respect — and that never hurts your case in a family legal matter

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