For many of my Divorce and Family Law clients, their first hands on experience with the court system is inside a divorce courtroom. A great deal of my clients ask me the same questions about court, which makes me figure even more of my clients are thinking the questions but are too afraid to ask. Below is a selection of typical questions my clients ask me. These questions include:
What do I do when I walk into the courtroom? Just sit down. Your lawyer will handle checking in with the Clerk, so just find a place to sit.
Where do I sit in court? Sit anywhere in the gallery -that’s the section of benches in the courtroom. There is usually a divider between the gallery and the area where lawyers sit. That divider is called “the bar”, which is where the term “passing the bar” comes from.
What do I do when my case is called? Approach the bench with your attorney and stand to their outside shoulder. Feel free to wish the Judge a good morning or afternoon.
What do I call the Judge? “Your Honor” is the most typical and is respectful and appropriate.
What do I wear to court? Divorce and Family Law courtrooms are unique in that the parties themselves are often in court along with their attorneys. It is important to make a good impression and to avoid unintentionally making a bad one. There are no dress code requirements. However, dress respectfully. You may not respect your spouse, or your spouse’s lawyer or perhaps even the Judge, but you still need to show respect for the judicial system. What I typically suggest to my clients is that they dress as if they were going to church or a business casual day at work. If you are going to work immediately after court, feel free to dress in your work clothes -whether that be scrubs, your uniform or a jumpsuit.
Can I talk to the Judge? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It’s your lawyer’s job to talk for you in most instances. If you think you need to say something to the Judge, be sure to talk to your attorney about it first.
Can I use my cell phone in Court? Definitely no. Some Judges have a policy of confiscating a cell phone if it goes off in Court -including if it’s on vibrate. Go out into the hallway if you need to use your phone.