Many of our family law clients are dealing with their first court case of their lives. They are nervous and intimidated about what the court process will be like, what they should wear, how they will be expected to act, and what they should say. We hope with this article to avoid one of the common sources of anxiety: what to wear on your day(s) in court. While you should take the advice of your attorney, there are some basic rules of thumb that apply to most court appearances:
- Do not wear clothes that are dirty, full of holes, or otherwise make you appear unkempt. This is especially true if you are dealing with a family law issue involving children and you are seeking to obtain or retain more time with your kids. The court will want to see evidence that you have the organization and skill to keep your kids healthy and safe. Don’t let your attire make them doubt your abilities.
- Do not wear clothes that violate any court rules. Some courthouses have rules about what litigants may and may not wear in the courthouse. Many courts limit hats. If there is such a rule (and your head wear is not based on your religious beliefs) remove your hat.
- Dress appropriately. Do not make your clothing the issue. It is probably not in your best interest to dress like you are headed to the basketball court or the nightclub. That said, it is probably not necessary (but you should check with your attorney on this) for you to buy clothes just for your appearance in the courtroom.
- Do not wear clothes with words or symbols that are offensive or controversial. While judicial officials strive to maintain their impartiality, they are still human. Do yourself a favor and skip shirts displaying offensive language.
Needless to say, clothing choices are only a small part of how we present ourselves to the court. That said, it is part of the first (and sometimes lasting) impression a judge or commissioner will have of you.
In addition to dressing in a respectful, professional, and clean fashion, it is more important that you act appropriately. Acting appropriately includes remaining calm even when your temper, sadness, or nervousness threatens to take control. It also includes things like turning off your cellphone and showing up on time for your hearing.
If you would like to speak with a Seattle area family law attorney that can help you through the entire process from petition to final orders and everything in between, please contact us. At Blair and Kim we ease our clients anxieties and help them feel more confident every step of the way.