The Proper Way to Act in Court When Getting a Divorce
San Diego, CA – California family court is similar to every other family court jurisdiction in the nation. For one, since the cases often involve divorce, custody disputes, and restraining orders, family court can be emotionally-charted, and thus outbursts can sometimes happen. Family court in California, like other jurisdictions, also expects litigants, attorneys, and all other parties to behave in a respectable manner. But what does that mean, exactly? Here are some pointers from family attorney John Griffith of Griffith, Young, and Lass with offices in Carlsbad and San Diego, California.
Your Behavior Can Affect Your Case
The first tip is to conduct yourself with the utmost integrity and always tell the truth. Acting out or responding in a disrespectful manner can lead to a negative judgement against you. Remember that the judge doesn’t know you or your spouse, and so your behavior is representative of how you act in everyday life. If the judge suspects that you are a hothead and not responsible for your actions, you are unlikely to get a positive judgement, whether it involves the children, assets, or both.
Always Be Prepared
Griffith recommends that litigants dress professionally, which means slacks and a shirt and tie for men and a conservative dress, business suit, or dress pants and shirt. Never wear flip-flops, sneakers, or high heels, and avoid wearing overly loud or all black clothing if at all possible.
As for jewelry, a wedding ring is acceptable, as is a watch, but heavy bracelets, earrings, and necklaces should be left at home. Don’t wear hats or sunglasses in court, and clothing that is considered revealing or that bears explicit language or images should also be avoided at all costs.
“The court will judge you based on what you wear and act, so dress as you would to a first interview or business meeting, and act just as professionally for best results.”
Educate Guests and Witnesses About Courtroom Rules
It is common for litigants to bring family members and friends to court to provide support. Sometimes, these individuals can act as witnesses for either party. To ensure you get the best results for your case, inform your friends and guests that they should dress and act just as formally. They shouldn’t gasp or nod their heads or shake their heads in exasperation. Instead, they should remain silent unless asked of the court to provide their testimony.
Griffith added, “Many litigants don’t realize that bringing along friends and family is acceptable and encouraged, but how they act can sway a case against you. It’s best to educate friends and family how to act before they enter the courtroom for best results.”
Listen Carefully & Speak When Directed
“When addressing the court, the key word is respect. Show up on time, state your case with confidence, and speak when asked by the judge,” Griffith said.
Other ways to show the court respect include sitting up straight and paying attention at all times. That means to turn your cell phone off and don’t doodle, read, or do anything else, particularly when the judge is speaking. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to refrain from chewing gum, eating, or drinking during the heating to avoid attracting the judge’s ire.
You are also encouraged to address the judge appropriately, which means to say, “Your honor,” either before or after your statements. When in doubt, “Your honor” will usually suffice until directed otherwise.
Remain Calm & Tell the Truth
Nothing will anger a judge more than lying or raising your voice. While your attorney may challenge the judge at times, you will notice that your counsel remains respectful at all times. That is precisely the way you should act while answering all questions when directed with absolute truth and clarity.
“Another tip is not to wave your arms or shuffle your feet in anger or annoyance. Judges can pick up on that and it can affect your case in a negative manner. It’s best to look the judge in the eye when directed, speak when spoken to, and mind your manners so that your case can get the best outcome,” said Griffith.
Every California court judge has different mannerisms and limits for what they will tolerate. Still, by dressing in the proper manner, following the right protocol, and coming prepared to your hearing, you will be more likely to get the outcome you expect.
To learn more, contact the California family attorneys at Griffith, Young & Lass, serving clients throughout the Carlsbad and San Diego areas, including Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, La Jolla, Leucadia, Oceanside, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Solana Beach, and Vista.
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