W. Tyler Moore, PC

Courtroom etiquette important in child custody cases

For divorcing parents, courtroom etiquette is critical. It just may help you gain a better standing with the judge who is overseeing your child custody case.

The courtroom is a formal venue, and should be treated as such. Yes, it may feel intimidating, but you’re there for an important reason: You want to make sure that your child will spend court-ordered time with you.

Guidelines for a smooth courtroom appearance

First impressions are vital, and you only get one chance to make an impression with the judge. Here are some general guidelines for when you appear in court in a child custody case.

  • Consult with your attorney who will provide guidelines on understanding the courtroom and its practices
  • Dress appropriately. Wear proper courtroom attire such as a dark suit, long-sleeved shirt and dress shoes. Dressing conservatively may make an impression on the judge, who won’t be distracted if you desire to wear informal or outlandish garb.
  • Avoid emotional outbursts. They can’t help but make the judge think poorly of you. Doing so could lead to the judge providing an advantage to the other parent. While emotions may run high during a divorce or child custody proceeding, it is best to maintain a cool composure throughout the hearing.
  • When asked questions by the judge, answer them directly and avoid sprinkling in your opinions. Stick to the facts. And always respect everyone in the courtroom, even your estranged spouse. Same goes for the judge and his staff, and never interrupt the judge when he or she is talking.

Judges encourage divorcing parents to try to solve as much of the co-parenting details themselves, so working together is key to ensure that your child continues to have a stable home. Please make sure the judge sees this when you’re appearing in court. It could work to your benefit.

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