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 are 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.
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!)