The Family Court deals with sensitive issues, and can be the scene of emotions, passion and drama. But your appearance and behaviour in Court may have a direct bearing on the outcome of your case.
Here are five tips on how to put your best foot forward in Court.
1. Dress appropriately
When you appear in Court, show respect for the Court. Remember the way you look is the first thing the Judge will notice about you, so don’t wear torn jeans and your favourite t-shirt. Low-cut tops, short hemlines and really loud clothing are also a no-no. Consider your appearance. Dress conservatively and with care. Look serious about the whole event.
2. Pay attention
Don't read messages on your phone or send text messages. Turn your phone off before you go into Court. Be attentive. Be thoughtful. Be present.
3. Don't shoot the messenger
The Family Court can be an emotional rollercoaster, but it is not the place for anger and hostility. You may think that the other side’s lawyer is a complete monster and your worst enemy. He or she is not. Judges pick up on pointless aggression towards your ex or their lawyer and don't like it. Control your feelings.
4. Don't overact
You are not the starring player in a soapie drama. Although emotions can run high, your best option is to remain calm, logical and polite. When the other side is talking to the Court, do not sigh loudly, snigger, roll your eyes or make gestures. It achieves nothing but damage to your credibility.
5. Look on the bright side
Chances are you don’t like your ex or you wouldn’t be there. Judges want to know you are rational, so don't describe your ex as a monster or prepare long lists of all the things he or she has done wrong. It is always helpful to remember some positives about your ex and be ready to give the other side some credit. This is a topic on which you may be questioned by the Judge and a well-rounded and logical viewpoint makes you seem more sympathetic and believable.
Follow these simple tips and you will be well on your way to a successful Court appearance.