Whether we like it or not, there is truth behind the common saying, "You never get a second chance at a first impression." If you have an upcoming child custody hearing, you may feel nervous about what to wear to court and how you should act. After all, making a positive first impression and showing respect and decorum in court can significantly influence a judge's perception of your parental capabilities.
Confidence Is Key
When we dress well and appear put together, we feel put together, immediately boosting our confidence. A (humble) sense of confidence is key for child custody hearings because it demonstrates to the court that you have nothing to hide and that you can take care of your child's emotional and physical needs. When you feel more confident, you are also more likely to present your case articulately and calmly.
Your clothing, facial expressions, and grooming habits send nonverbal cues to the judge and the court about your trustworthiness, organization, credibility, etc. Dressing appropriately for the court also informs the court that you understand the seriousness of the matter. We dress up for things that are important to us.
Respect and Decorum in Court
Like all court proceedings, child custody hearings demand a certain level of decorum and respect. If you are not used to dressing professionally, the following guidelines can be good starting points:
- Dress Code: Dress in a manner that shows respect for the court. Would you want your attorney to show up to court in flip-flops and a tank top? Although an attorney advocates on your behalf, you must also show respect for yourself and demonstrate that you understand the seriousness of participating in a child custody hearing. It is best to opt for business or business-casual attire as if you were attending an important job interview. If you are stuck on what to wear, don't overthink it. Men can opt for a suit or slacks and a nice shirt. Women can opt for a suit, slacks, or a conservative dress that is not distracting.
- Grooming: Maintain personal grooming and hygiene to present yourself as a responsible and capable parent. If you show up to court disheveled, the court may assume that you cannot provide adequate care for yourself, let alone your child.
- Be Punctual: Arrive at the courthouse early. Tardiness may undermine the court's opinion of your commitment to your case. Punctuality will also help alleviate your stress before the hearing because you will not be rushing to park, meet with your attorney, find the proper courtroom, etc.
Aside from your physical appearance, the court will also be watching how you interact with those around you. Are you quick to get angry? Impatient? Or are you calm and respectful? Treat all parties with respect, including your former partner as their counsel. Although it may feel incredibly difficult to show kindness and respect during such an emotionally charged matter, your ability to control your emotions will reflect favorably on your parenting skills.
Contact Us Today
Child custody hearings are not a casual environment. It's important to present yourself appropriately and demonstrate to the court that you are committed to being a responsible and caring parent. Although the idea of attending a court hearing can be scary, you are not alone. The qualified and caring Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm has a wealth of experience preparing clients for court and can help alleviate your stress by answering any questions you may have before your hearing. Contact us today by calling (888) 535-3686 or tell us about your case online.