Most family law cases resolve without the need for judicial intervention. However, in some cases, a court appearance is necessary, either to dispute a legal issue, or to enter an agreement on the record. Because it is possible that your family law case will require a court appearance, it is a good idea to understand the basic rules of court decorum.
Be On Time
Planning to be on time to court requires determined thought and preparation. In addition to finding adequate parking, the courthouse has certain security procedures for entrance into the courthouse and/or courtroom. There is no way to predict how many other people may be in line waiting to get through security. As such, it is a good idea to arrive at the courthouse at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appearance.
Dress for Court
When making choices about what to wear to court, consider what you might wear to a job interview in a professional setting. If you do not regularly wear a suit, there is no reason to purchase a suit for this court appearance. However, you should consider a dress shirt and skirt or slacks.
Stand When the Judge Enters the Room
Whenever the judge enters or leaves the court, make sure to stand. This is a show of respect. Even if you are in the middle of a sentence when the judge enters the room, stop talking and remain silent. Do not carry on conversations while court is in session. If you are communicating with your lawyer, do so in writing while court is in session. Don’t be surprised of your lawyer doesn’t respond immediately. They may be listening to the judge, the other lawyer, or handling another task related to your case.
Rules for Speaking to the Judge
Some of the basic rules for what to do and what not to do when speaking to a judge may seem obvious. However, most people who attend family court proceedings are a bit nervous. Sometimes, the emotion that comes with having to be in the room with a soon to be former spouse can also cause tension. As such, we repeat these basic rules when communicating with the judge as a gentle reminder.
First, listen to what the judge is asking you. While you may have a list of things you want to tell the judge, if the judge asks you a direct question, answer that question, and that question only.
Second, do not interrupt the judge when he or she is talking. Instead, wait your turn. If you are concerned the judge has misunderstood a situation, and the judge is not asking for your input, let your attorney know of your concern by writing them a note. Your attorney will address your concern when it is appropriate to do so.
Finally, when addressing the court, “your honor” is the appropriate salutation. You may address the judge as “your honor” when it is your turn to talk. When it is not your turn to talk, it is best not to interject yourself into the proceedings.
Do You Need a West Palm Beach Family Law Attorney?
Eric C. Cheshire is an attorney well-versed in family law matters. Whether you are looking to file for a divorce, revisit alimony, modify or establish time-sharing, parental responsibility or child support, the law firm of Eric C. Cheshire, P.A. can help you with all of your family law needs.