Appearing in Court is not an activity with which the majority of people are familiar. In fact, many people will never have a need to be in court unless they are called for jury duty. However, some instances require a court appearance. A divorce will almost always require at least one spouse to be present in court. Knowing what to expect for a court appearance will decrease the anxiety associated with the experience. The following is a top ten list of helpful information for those that may need to appear in family court.
#10 – Turn Off Your Cell Phone
Don’t merely activate the vibrate option, the phone needs to be turned off. There is no easier way to draw attention to yourself, in a bad way, than by having your cell phone ring in the middle of a court proceeding.
#9 – Do Not Bring Children
Do not bring children to court unless the court has instructed you to do so. Children are not a part of the litigation process. A judge will not look favorably on a litigant that brings a child to court to witness the adversarial process.
#8 – Look The Part
This means that you should respect the court and the proceedings and dress accordingly. Do not wear shorts, jeans, a t-shirt, or anything else that would not satisfy a business casual standard. Many judges will not permit a party to proceed with their case if they are dressed inappropriately.
#7 – Act The Part
This is related to number eight. You should respect the court and the proceedings and therefore act accordingly. This is not the time for you to engage in a heated discussion with your spouse. Take the high road and act professionally.
#6 – Be On Time
Just like numbers seven and eight, this is a professional setting. You would not show up late for work, therefore, don’t show up late for family law court. Further, if you are not in court at the designated time, the court has the authority to dismiss your matter or to rule against you.
#5 – Do Not Get Angry
Do not let yourself get angry at your spouse’s attorney. It is the job of the attorney on the other side to zealously represent their client. If they are overly zealous, the court will note that. Your professional demeanor will be more beneficial for you than if you engage in a heated exchange.
# 4 – Be Prepared
If your attorney has asked you to bring certain documents to court with you, then be certain to do so. If you do not have the proper information with you, then your case might need to be rescheduled. This means additional cost to you, therefore, do all that you can to ensure you are prepared.
#3 – Leave Food Outside
Be sure to leave your food, beverages, and chewing gum outside the courtroom.
#2 – Prepare Yourself For The Event
Realize that the day is going to be quite possibly very long, stressful, and certainly exhausting. Get a good night of sleep, eat a hearty breakfast, bring snacks and perhaps even a sandwich and water (for outside of the courtroom), bring any necessary medication (this includes over the counter items you might need such as aspirin and antacids), and bring something to read in case you have extended breaks.
#1 – When The Day Is Over
When the day is over, congratulate yourself. Know that you have done the best job possible and that you have done all that was within your ability to do to ensure the outcome you desire.
Faun Rowland is an attorney that has been practicing in the area of family law for fifteen years. In addition, she has been an adjunct professor of law at Tarrant County College for approximately seven years. Faun is a member of the State Bar of Texas, State Bar of California (inactive), Tarrant County Bar Association, and the Tarrant County Family Law Bar Association.