When it comes to courtroom behavior during divorce proceedings, things that may seem superficial to you in comparison to the issues being debated could actually affect the outcome of your case.
If your divorce case goes to court, please remember these five tips for proper courtroom etiquette:
- Dress as though you were going to a job interview. Wear a conservative suit, closed-toe shoes and modest accessories. Hair should be styled conservatively, with minimal perfume or cologne.
- Do not interrupt the judge or opposing counsel. Emotional outbursts may make for excellent drama in fictional courtrooms, but in real venues, they can cost you custody of your child or an award of spousal support. Trust in your lawyer to speak for you and to counter any provocations made by your spouse’s attorney.
- Answer questions honestly and concisely. You are in court and under oath, which means you must give honest answers to the judge or other attorney when asked. However, do not offer more than is asked of you, as that can damage your case or inadvertently reveal an issue the other side didn’t know existed.
- Be polite and show respect to the judge, opposing counsel — and yes, your ex, too. No matter how irritated or angry you get, you must not use foul language or raise your voice at anyone in the courtroom. Maintain at least outward civility at all times.
- Turn off your cellphone. Hopefully, this obvious to you, but we are often surprised by how many people forget to do this. No ringing, no vibrating —just off. There simply isn’t anything more important than your case during the time you are in the courtroom, period.
Going through divorce proceedings in the court can be a challenging experience, but by following the basic rules of behavior, you may already have an edge over your ex-spouse.