Divorce Articles Section

Do's and Don'ts for the Courtroom

When it is time to actually appear in court, a number of do’s and don’ts can help make you more believable to the judge, as well as to yourself.

Do’s for the Courtroom

  1. Be careful about what you wear. Dress as you would for an important event, and discuss your specific plans with your attorney.
  2. Be on time.
  3. Tell the truth and be straightforward. If telling the truth means that you will lose, then consider settlement.
  4. Keep your emotions under control, no matter what is said.
  5. Try to act naturally.
  6. Listen to the entire question before answering.
  7. Speak up so that you can be heard.
  8. Ask to have a question repeated if you do not understand it.
  9. Answer, “yes” if asked if you and your lawyer went over your testimony to prepare for the trial.
  10. Write notes to your lawyer if you must communicate with him or her before a recess.
  11. Respond to the judge when he or she asks you any questions.
  12. Be pleasant to opposing council, even if you want to attack them.
  13. Come in with a positive attitude.

Don’ts for the Courtroom

  1. Don’t chew gum.
  2. Don’t make faces at your spouse, the judge, the lawyers, or witnesses.
  3. Don’t tell lies – even small ones.
  4. Don’t try to be cute, a wise guy, or flippant.
  5. Don’t try to memorize your answers.
  6. Don’t act hostile.
  7. Don’t worry if you forget something.
  8. Don’t try to get sympathy from the judge.
  9. Don’t act defensive or suspicious on cross-examination.
  10. Don’t interrupt the person who is asking you questions.
  11. Don’t use the threat of custody or withholding visitation of your kids.
  12. Don’t wear seductive or flashy clothing.
  13. Don’t keep the court waiting.

Source: The Dollars and Sense of Divorce, © 1998, by Carol Ann Wilson, Judith Briles, & Edwin Schilling