Always be respectful. You ultimately want the judge to like you and sympathize with your situation to hopefully rule in your favor. Respecting the judge, the courtroom and the process is a good start.
Additionally, specificity means credibility. When you testify before a judge, make sure that you provide specifics within what you are testifying about. If you’re too general about a subject, judges tend to question your credibility on that subject.
When testifying, you want to occasionally look at the judge, particularly when testifying about something impactful (e.g., your children).
Also, make sure you dress appropriately for the courtroom. Business to business-casual attire will work, but if you’re likely going to be paying some sort of support, you don’t want to “dress like a million bucks” either.
The divorce litigation process can seem intimidating. Taking time to prepare yourself for hearings in your case can bring you better results.
Prior to your hearing date, make sure that your attorney knows all of the facts in advance — both good and bad. There is no worse time to have skeletons come out of the closet for the first time than at a hearing.
On your hearing date, dress in a neat and appropriate manner. Judges are also very keen on picking up on nonverbal cues. Do not roll your eyes, huff and puff, or glare at your spouse. Judges are human too, and you won’t help yourself by being disrespectful.
The best way to prepare for a court appearance in front of a judge is to dress in business attire. Wear what you would wear if you were going to a nice restaurant.
Secondly, whenever the judge is addressing you or asking you questions, you need to stand up and respond to him or her and call him or her “Your Honor”. Too many times clients call judges Sir or Ma’am, and it definitely makes a difference in the judge’s eyes to address them as “Your Honor,” as they have earned that title.
Thirdly and most importantly, be prepared. I usually make my clients memorize the important dates and timeline of significant events relating to the court appearance. Remembering specific dates and times is very helpful and shows the judge that you truly care about your case.
Guys should absolutely prepare with their attorney. An attorney invested in your case will meet with you prior to any hearing where you will give testimony to ensure that you are comfortable with potential questions and that you are appropriately conveying your message to the court.
Also, talk to your attorney about what you should wear and who you should bring with you to court. In the past, I have had clients bring so much family to the court that they took up three rows in the gallery. This was more of a spectacle than a show of support.
Make sure you talk to your attorney about everything to be sure you are putting yourself in the best light.
One often overlooked way to prepare for a hearing before a master or judge is to work on your presentation to the court. Especially if this is your first appearance in court, making sure you are properly groomed and dressed is an easy way to help make a good first impression.
Jeans are an easy way to tell the court you are not taking the proceeding seriously; and you usually can’t go wrong with trousers and a button-down shirt.
Your posture and physical presentation also should be addressed beforehand. If you are constantly slouching or disengaged from the proceeding, you are telling the judge, opposing counsel and the other party that you either do not want to be there or couldn’t care less.
Instead, you want to show engagement and consideration for all involved; so to this end, make sure you are well rested from the night before and aware of your posture when sitting next to your attorney or on the witness stand.
Prior to any hearing before a judge, schedule a time to meet with your attorney. If your attorney has not already given you an outline of what will occur at the hearing and what questions you should expect, ask for it.
Spend time going over your testimony and actually saying it out loud. This will help to ensure that you are speaking clearly, slowly and actually saying what you intend to tell the judge.
Lastly, be sure you dress in court appropriate clothing and plan enough time to arrive at the courthouse, park, go through security and get to the right courtroom with enough time to collect your thoughts and finalize any other details with your attorney before the hearing.
Your attorney should be assisting in making sure that you are prepared to appear before a judge at hearings.
Before any hearing where testimony may be taken, I provide my clients with a list of questions that I will be asking them, information on what I think opposing counsel may ask during cross examination and I go over exhibits with them. This way, we minimize surprises at the hearing.
I would also always recommend that you dress nicely for any hearing in front of a judge and that you keep your emotions in check (i.e. avoid eye rolling, hand gestures, head shaking, etc.). You want to avoid anything that the judge is going to consider to be rude.
Ask your attorney what to expect procedurally in the hearing. They should be skilled enough to explain to you step by step what should happen.
Wear your Sunday best to court. Be respectful of the lawyers and the judge.
The judge will lose interest immediately in your case if you are disrespectful on the stand.