We live in a casual society. Many people wear shorts or jeans to church, work from home and rarely put on a jacket and tie. Does that mean you can dress down for court? Only if you are seeking to offend the Judge, which in general is not a good idea.
If you have a divorce in Georgia, keep these pointers in mind:
- Clothing. No hats, hoodies, flip flops, sneakers, jeans, tee shirts or visible piercings or tattoos. Men should wear a jacket and tie with dress slacks and conservative leather soled shoes. Try to stick with blue and black jackets and slacks and a light colored button down shirt. Bright colors look great but not so much in a courtroom. Women should wear a dress (not too short) or slacks and a subdued top with medium height shoes.
- Grooming. Both men and women should be well groomed with hair that is freshly washed, combed, pulled back and off your face.
- Phones, IPADS and Laptops. Turn your cellphone completely 100% off; it should not ring, vibrate, chirp or make any other noise in the courtroom. Don’t talk, text, email, chat or even whisper in the courtroom. Judges can see and hear everything and are easily distracted and offended when you are making noise.
- Children. Don’t bring children to court. Leave them with a babysitter.
- Food. Don’t chew gum, eat or drink in a courtroom and don’t brink bottles or food of any kind into the courtroom.
- Manners. Be polite, courteous and respectful of everyone, including, Judges, courtroom bailiffs, attorneys, your spouse, etc. If you accidentally interrupt someone, apologize to the person you interrupted. If there is an “objection” when you are testifying, stop in mid sentence and don’t speak until the Judge says you can. Be uber polite at all times.
- Testimony. If you are testifying, be clear and direct about what you are saying. Judges are pretty smart. They catch on fairly quickly if you try to hoodwink them. I don’t recommend it. Take your time when you are speaking, think about what you are saying and be as honest as you possibly can. Don’t argue with the Judge, the attorneys or your spouse and leave the bottled up emotions at home. Try not to point fingers, be overly critical or paint yourself as a saint. I have been practicing law for 25 years and have yet to have a saint for a client. Be honest and truthful and own up to your misdeeds.
- Demeanor. Try to be pleasant, concise and have a realistic perspective. If you can step back from the situation and tell it like it is, you will be much better off. Too often the parties in a case are so bitter and focused on what they want that they lack perspective. Don’t ask for too much or you may end up with nothing. Try to limit your request to what is reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances.
Remember that courtrooms are still hallowed grounds. Understand that how you present yourself in person, from your dress to what you say and do, will be scrutinized and dissected by the Judge. Don’t overstate your case or exaggerate to make yourself look better. The more genuine, sincere and humble you are and the more respect your show, the better off you will be in court.