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Courtroom demeanor, appearance important in child custody matters

Appearances matter, especially court appearances when you are before a judge who will make the decision regarding child custody matters in your divorce.

Understand that a courtroom represents a formal setting. You should respect that. Your actions and behavior will play an important role and could possibly work in your favor as you seek court-ordered time with your child.

Dress conservatively, keep answers simple

Since your child means the world to you, obviously, you want to make a good impression on the judge, who already knows plenty about you from the court documents. Here are some guidelines to consider for child custody-related court appearances:

  • Listen to your attorney: A legal advocate can provide descriptions on what to expect in court, how the process works and pointers on how to act and address the judge.
  • Wear appropriate clothing: Dressing conservatively is key. Men should consider wearing a long-sleeved button-down shirt, dark suit and dress shoes. Women should consider wearing a dress shirt and slacks. You want to be taken seriously.
  • Control your emotions: Granted, emotions may have run high throughout your divorce, but keep those emotions in check in the courtroom. Any emotional outbursts or a raised voice likely will reflect poorly on you. You do not want the child’s other parent to gain an advantage related to custody.
  • Keep answers simple: If the judge asks you questions, keep your responses to the point and easily understood. This is no time to pontificate with opinions. Respect the courtroom setting and everyone inside. That includes your estranged spouse. And do not interrupt the judge.

On the surface, the whole courtroom experience may seem intimidating. Do not let such feelings overtake you. Just make sure to have a good demeanor and appearance in court.

Taking the initiative

Judges often encourage divorcing parents to address details of parenting plans before they appear in court. By working together in an attempt to resolve child-related issues, you are showing the judge that you have taken the initiative to ensure your child continues to have a stable home.