Tips for Court - Attire and What to Expect

Make plans for yourself and the children

  • Arrange for someone to watch the children.

  • Only bring the children to Court if the case is in Juvenile Court.

  • If you wish, ask a friend to come with you for moral support. (Your friend must remain silent during Court.)

  • Plan to be at Court all morning (or all afternoon), because your case may not be the first one called.

Get prepared for the hearing

  • Be familiar with your paperwork.

  • It is a good idea to make written notes or an outline to use at the hearing. Stick to the facts and be brief.

  • Call the Court Clerk to find out the time limits for your argument. You may have only a few minutes to speak.

  • Complete and bring a proposed Order for the Judge to sign after the hearing.

The Day of the Hearing

  • Dress neatly, as if going to a job interview or special event.

  • Be on time for your hearing, but be prepared to wait. Your case may not be the first one called.

  • Check in at the Clerk’s Office or check the monitor to determine which Courtroom to go to.

  • Do not bring food or drinks into the Courtroom. They are not allowed.

  • Do not laugh or talk about the case in hallways or restrooms unless you want others to hear you.

At the time of the Hearing

  • The clerk of Judge may read all the cases scheduled for your hearing time – or the Judge may just begin with the first matter on the calendar.

  • When your name is called, answer.

  • If asked, tell the Judge whether you and the other side agree. Where there is not agreement, the Judge will hear arguments from both sides.

When your case is called

  • Walk to the table in front of the Judge and stand, facing the Judge.

  • The Judge may swear you in and will tell you when to speak.

  • Be respectful and courteous.

  • Always address the Judge formally as “Your Honor.”

Tips on answering questions

  • The Judge may ask you questions.

  • If you don’t understand the question, say so.

  • Think about the question before you answer.

  • Explain you answer if you need to.

  • If you don’t know the answer, say so.

  • Be exact with dates and times if you can. If you cannot be exact, say you are estimating.

Tips on speaking in Court

  • Use words and terms you understand.

  • Speak loud enough to be easily heard by the judge.

  • Speak only to the judge, and only when it is your turn.

  • Do not interrupt the other party.

  • If something needs to be explained, wait until it is your turn to speak.

Tips for good behavior

  • Be polite, reasonable and calm.

  • Don’t be sarcastic or argue with the Judge.

  • Wait for your turn to provide information.

After the ruling

  • Remain courteous to the Judge.

  • Ask the Judge who should prepare the Order for the Judge to sign.