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Columbia Family & Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Alimony > Do’s and Don’ts When Appearing in Court

Do’s and Don’ts When Appearing in Court


Fortunately, most family law matters are resolved prior to having a judge decide the issues at a merits hearing.  However, many times a resolution occurs after there have been motions hearing, temporary hearings, or other court appearances, and, of course, some matters proceed all the way to trial. If you find yourself in a position where :

  • DO insist on meeting with your attorney to review your testimony. Even the most experienced attorney cannot give you a roadmap for every question you may be asked, but it is important to have those discussions in advance so that you can be as prepared as you possibly can be.
  • DO make sure you get plenty of sleep. It may sound crazy, but a full day in court can be an exhausting experience.  Nowadays, it is rare that we have to focus for hours at a time, with no breaks, and no distractions, so it is important that you arrive in court ready and alert.
  • DON’T create other stressors for yourself for your day in court. Make sure your schedule is clear. If you need childcare, make sure it is arranged for in advance.
  • DO bring items with you to make sure you are prepared. Some judges give long breaks, some judges give shorter breaks.  You don’t always have time to leave the courthouse to get food, so make sure you come prepared.  Additionally, court doesn’t always start on time, so bring a book, some work, or something else to read during downtime.
  • DO arrive on time.
  • DON’T argue with opposing counsel during cross-examination. Your credibility is incredibly important, and while you don’t have to agree with opposing counsel, it is important to remain polite and poised.
  • DO dress the part. This does not mean that you need to be wearing tailored or designer clothing, but it is important to dress appropriately and professionally to show the court that your matter is important enough to you to put in that minimal effort.
  • DO discuss with your attorney in advance who you can bring to court with you. Sometimes it can be comforting to have a friend or family member with you.  Sometimes just a familiar face in the back of the court room can be relaxing.  However, it is important that you let your attorney know in advance. It is possible there may be individuals your attorney does not want in the courthouse, because if they are there, they could be called as a witness.
  • DON’T get locked into your testimony and forget about your audience. There are no juries in family law cases, so your audience is a panel of one, namely, the judge.  Body language, eye contact, and your general demeanor can all be factors in your case.  Remember to look up from the witness stand from time to time at the judge and keep that connection in place.


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