Appearing in Family Court can be a nerve-wracking experience. Our focus is on what we want to tell the judge, what others might say, and how things will turn out. It’s easy to forget details that can matter – like showing up with things that won’t help your case. Following is a list of 8 Things you should leave at home when you go to Family Court.
1. Your children. Not alone, obviously – unless you want to make it really easy for the judge to decide who gets custody. Most judges will not allow children in the courtroom – and not just because of the distraction. No child needs to hear the details of the parents’ conflict. (This holds true in and out of court.)
2. Your nosering. It’s hard for the judge to see the sincerity in your eyes when she’s staring at your nose.
3. Your attitude collection. This includes, but is not limited to: smart-ass, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, know-it-all, and negative. The exception to this rule is if you have a positive one. Dust it off, if necessary, and bring it with you.
4. Anything that jangles/clacks/squeaks. We’re talking noise-making distractions here. Things like multiple chain necklaces, pockets full of coins, squeaky shoes, unsecured dentures.
5. Anything that will get you stopped by security. Guns, knives, other weapons, and alcohol are all things that you won’t be allowed to pass through security with. If you attempt to do so, you will probably end up having to make a choice between giving it up or being late for court because you have to take the item back to your car – which is sure to make a wonderful first impression on the judge!
6. Your cell phone. Okay – we both know that’s not happening. You probably won’t even agree to leave it in the car to avoid temptation. At least leave it off when in the courtroom. Not low, not vibrate – off. No good will come from the unexpected tones of your phone spewing out the theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly while the judge is talking.
7. Your cleavage. I know I mentioned in a previous post that this was a way to impress the judge, but you knew I was kidding, right? You don’t really have to leave it home, just cover it up. Remember that even a ‘bit of cleavage’ can be dramatically magnified by sitting down or having someone looking down at you (say, from the judge’s bench). Keep everyone in the courtroom focused on your expressive face and compelling testimony by wearing clothes that don’t distract.
8. Your cheerleading squad. One or two friends or family members for moral support can be a good thing. Filling the courtroom with a mob that glare at the opposition and high-five as you head up to the witness stand will not serve you well. Negative behavior from your courtroom guests will reflect on you.
Now that you are basically stripped down to a turtleneck and a positive attitude, you’re probably wondering if there is anything you should take to Family Court. Check back on Saturday for the short list.