I hope you never have to go to court. It’s stressful, uncertain and expensive. My wish for you is that you agree to an out-of-court settlement that is fair to everyone.
But if you do find yourself in a courtroom, there are some things you should know that will help get you (or keep you) on the judge’s good side. And that is always where you want to be.
Here is my list of courtroom dos and don’ts.
DO wear proper attire. The judge will not appreciate jeans, shorts, flip-flops, sneakers or tee shirts. You are not going to the beach. You are also not going to a nightclub, so avoid anything flashy or revealing. A blazer is nice, but not mandatory. And go easy on the jewelry and make-up.
DON’T wear a costume. If you’re a corporate executive, then dress like one. If you’re not, then don’t. Same for stay-at-home moms. Be yourself. Choose an outfit that makes you feel like you, not an imposter.
DON’T speak unless spoken to. There is some serious protocol to follow, so wait for your lawyer or the judge to give you the nod before you open your mouth.
DO address the judge properly. Call him or her “judge”, “your honor” or “the court”.
DON’T show up late. Prove to the judge that this court case is your priority by being on time.
DO exercise self-control. Don’t roll your eyes when your STBX (soon-to-be-ex) goes off on some rant. Don’t smirk, either, if things aren’t going his way. You are trying to convince the judge that you are the more mature and capable parent, so make sure you act that way.
DON’T interrupt the judge. Ever. They hate that.
DO keep your answers brief. If something needs elaboration, your lawyer or the judge will ask for more information.
DON’T use phrases such as “he always…,” “I never…” or “everyone says…” These are exaggerations and will make you sound immature.
DO thank the judge on the way out. Even if things didn’t go your way, it shows a lot of poise to be polite in the face of adversity.
Nothing is more advantageous than having the court aligned with you, so do everything you can to get on the judge’s good side. Following these guidelines should help.