Courtroom behavior is an extremely important aspect of any child custody hearing. Showing respect for the judge, attorneys, and even an adversary may determine whether a party will win child custody or lose. Here is some important information to consider regarding etiquette and behavior when you are in a courtroom for a custody hearing:
Parents should dress appropriately for all child custody hearings. Parents should stick to the following dress code:
- Dark suit
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Closed-toe shoes
If parents decide to avoid the proper dress code, it may distract the judge and have an effect on whether the parent will win child custody.
Avoid all emotional outbursts. Emotional outbursts upset the judge and might give the child's other parent an advantage. Understandably, determining custody of a child is an emotional event. However, a parent who becomes overly emotional may give the judge a bad impression. As a result, after an emotional outburst, the child's other parent may have an advantage and even win child custody.
Asking and Answering Questions
A parent who would like to interject an opinion or ask a question during a child custody hearing should first speak with their attorney. The attorney is the only party, aside from the judge, that may speak at all times during a hearing. An attorney can ask a parent's question or ask for clarification at the most appropriate time.
When responding to questions, a parent should:
- Answer questions directly
- Avoid adding any additional opinions or statements after answering a question
A parent who is preparing to give courtroom testimony should ask his/her attorney to help them prepare for the questions that will likely be asked. The attorney can also give the parent an advanced understanding of court room practices.
Parents should remember to always respect everyone in the courtroom, especially a former partner. For more information about proper courtroom etiquette, parents should speak with their attorneys for assistance.