Attending a Hearing in Your Divorce Case? What You Should Know about Courtroom Etiquette
A divorce trial is many parties’ first experience inside of a courtroom. The rules of courtroom behavior aren’t hard to learn, but they are extremely important. Like it or not, your case can be won or lost based on how you behave in court. Read on to learn about the important rules of behavior in the courtroom during a divorce trial, and contact a seasoned New Jersey divorce lawyer with any additional questions.
1. Timeliness is critical
Courts are notoriously busy, and a judge has a long list of matters to address each day. If all parties are not in the courtroom when your case is called, the judge may move on to the next item on their docket. Allow yourself more time than you think you’ll need to get to the courthouse in case parking is problematic or lines at the courthouse’s metal detector are long.
2. Dress appropriately and follow courtroom rules
It’s important to dress respectfully when attending court. This doesn’t have to mean a suit and tie, but it should mean an outfit that you might wear to a job interview. If you need to address the judge, refer to him or her as “your honor.” You should also check the court’s rules on bringing cell phones or computers into a courtroom. Some might not allow you to bring in either, so be sure you have any notes you’ll need in a hard copy format. At minimum, be sure to silence your phone to keep it from getting confiscated.
3. Allow your lawyer to handle the talking
You’ve chosen an experienced and professional attorney so that they can do the talking in the courtroom, not you. There may come moments when your spouse or their attorney says something that you find so offensive or untrue that you may feel compelled to correct them in open court. However, this is not your job. If you think that your attorney might not have reason to know why something is a misrepresentation, you should calmly write down your thoughts on a note that you pass to them.
4. Refrain from having emotional outbursts
Never react emotionally to something said in court. Keep your body language composed and engaged at all times. Appearing to have difficulty controlling your emotions or, worse, a violent temper, could diminish your credibility as a witness or make your spouse appear more sympathetic in comparison.