5 Things to Take With You to Family Court

Posted by: Shel 6 Comments

Thursday’s list of what not to take to Family Court may have left thinking you should show up to the big event empty-handed. Not so! There Notebook for courtare a few things you can take with you to court that will make you more comfortable – or at least less uncomfortable. Following are five suggestions.

1. Communication tools. You don’t want to try and talk to your attorney while the hearing is going on because it can be distracting as well as cause the attorney to miss something important that was said by a witness. But you definitely want to be able to communicate with him. Have your own notepad, a pen, and an extra pen in case the first one rolls off the table and can’t be reached no matter how far you extend your foot. A highlighter and sticky notes can also be helpful to point out things on documents when you cannot talk. Women often have a ready-made parcel carrier they can use to transport these items. Guys, you’ll have to be a little more resourceful. If you’re not willing to get a man-purse (which will actually be called a ‘satchel’ if you carry it under your arm) you can simply use a three-ring binder in a masculine black or an I’m-very-secure-with-myself-neon color.

2. Layered clothes. Judges often wear heavy robes and it’s not uncommon for their courtroom temperatures to be low enough to keep them cool – a frosty result for the rest of us. But don’t just wear that heavy pullover – you may end up in the courtroom where the air conditioner is out.

3. A bottle of water. The silver carafe on a tray surrounded by water glasses is movie stuff. I rarely even see a water cooler with cone cups available. Even if you can’t keep it on the table, it’s nice to have it nearby to alleviate a dry throat on a break while saving you the search for the vending machine and the two or three dollars you’ll need to put in it.

Courtesy of walgreens.com
Courtesy of walgreens.com

4. Breath Mints. It is generally frowned upon to chew gum or suck on candy in the courtroom, but having a little mint you can discreetly pop can moisten your mouth and stave off stale breath. Bring enough to share – you’ll be in close proximity with your attorney and witnesses and there’s no telling what they’re going to have for lunch. Personally, I’m too paranoid to turn down the offer of a mint. I’m always amazed at the confidence with which others say “No thank you” to such an offer. It may be my imagination, but it seems like the more confidence in the response the higher the garlic content on the breath!

5. A healthy dose of respect for the judge and the process.* This is not the time to display your brilliant wit or your savvy knowledge of the legal system. This is the time to help the judge understand the big picture regarding your children, your family dynamic, and your financial situation to enable the judge to make the most informed, appropriate decisions possible.

*This was a direct quote from friend, Jeanna W. who has a behind-the-scenes understanding of the process (thanks, Joanna!)


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  • Judy Sherman

    I agree with the best attorney around, but I’d also add a family member or a close friend–just for support and to take you to lunch when it’s over.

    Love your blog, Shel!!

    • Shel Harrington

      The lunch part’s really important – and the attorney should go, too! I’m delighted to hear from you, Judy – hope to see you soon!

  • the number one thing to take to court is…. (drum roll here) – the best dang family law attorney in town!

    • Shel Harrington

      Or, if we’re not available, second best!Kidding aside, it isimportant to have representation that is knowledgeable, integrity-driven, and who understands the specific case to guide one through the process and fight for them if need be.

  • Thanks so much for the tip about the temperature issue, I am always cold and when I am stressed I can get all shakey- which is definitely something I would want to leave at home. I think having an open mind about outcome is a good thing to bring. Do you agree?

    • Shel Harrington

      I doagree. I find that judges are getting more creative in how they rule – coming up with solutions that best fit a particular family instead of going to the pat winner/loser scenarios – and it’s a good thing!

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