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Preparing for Court and Making a Good Impression

Preparing for Court and Making a Good Impression in a Texas Divorce and Family Law Case 

Good courtroom etiquette involves removing hats before entering the courtroom, turning off cell phones, and being prepared to conduct oneself and professionally interact with others. Your divorce attorney and their staff may share their tips about preparing for Court and making a good impression. For example, knowing how to dress and look may be different than what some expect. Appearing in Court, it is important to take the situation seriously and be respectful of others and their time in also being present for your important family law matter. Whether it be the first time appearing before your Judge or a short trip to Court on a housekeeping issue, always keep a professional demeanor and conduct oneself as if the entire experience is being videotaped and recorded, and in today’s age of technology, it is more likely than not you are being permanently captured on audio and video. 

What to Wear: Dress Code for Courtroom Proceedings (Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District of Texas at Fort Worth – example)

Leslie Barrows and her team of divorce attorneys, paralegals, and staff at the Barrows Firm in Southlake prepare divorce and family law clients for Court appearances and what to expect. Every situation is different and how things proceed depends on how people respond to the process and the underlying facts and circumstances. 

Texas Law Help: Tips for the Courtroom

So much can happen in a Texas divorce and family law case, and even though some people make a good first impression, things can turn ugly, and acrimony takes over the tone of negotiations. In those cases, it may be necessary to adjust the litigation strategy. Attorney Barrows knows the reputation of fellow family lawyers in DFW and what one might expect. The ultimate focus must be on protecting the family, parents, and children and their best interests. It may be difficult appearing and testifying in Court, especially under ugly circumstances, and it is important to feel authentic trust in your legal counsel. 

A permanent record is of concern when it comes to court appearances and the testimony and evidence that may be brought up again in the future, especially in post-decree or any appeal situations. Remember to always keep calm and take as long as needed to think about questions, answer them, present information, and so forth. Never take the bait if your opponent or their counsel tries to upset you. 

Check out the Barrows Firm Blog and Search for Information

Tips for Courtroom Conduct and Keeping a Positive Attitude 

You only get one chance to make a first impression. And you do not want to make too much of an impression to the extent that the judge remembers you. Ideally, you will appear the model citizen and parent of the year, every time you appear in court. If the judge looks and remembers you immediately, that means you are on the judge’s mind and that is not always a good thing. Being memorable might mean you come off as a problem or as otherwise memorable because it looks like you might not be the type to want to agree to anything or follow through with agreements. 

While being concerned with looking appropriate to the Court, in dress and demeanor, there may be a nasty opposing party and their counsel who might trigger emotions, make you look good or bad, or gaslight a situation to upset you or cause you to appear flustered. Thankfully most attorneys are respectful and maintain good courtroom decorum, but the unfortunate gamesmanship happens, and people need to be prepared if positive attitudes are tested. 

The Balance Small Business: How to Make a More Effective Appearance in Court

What to Expect in Texas Family Law Courts 

Your divorce lawyer and their team prepare you for court, how questions may be asked, and how the process works when you or others take the witness stand and offer testimonial evidence. Of course, much of what happens in court involves documentation of financial and other reports regarding custody or whatever other issues may be in controversy. The Court oversees the process of exchanging information and developing testimony and evidence the Court uses to make rulings and recommendations when the parties otherwise do not agree. At the end of the day, most things get into evidence, especially when it comes to the property because the Judge needs to know everything about the marital estate to make proper decisions about property division and support, for example. 

Depending on what type of court appearance is scheduled, there could be a short status appearance where the attorneys address the Court and let the Judge know updates. When there is a temporary hearing scheduled or a hearing on another matter during the case, each side may have limited time to present evidence and arguments to prove claims made in divorce and family law matters. 

Expect the unexpected in a Texas divorce and family law case because things come out left field when divorce and child custody matters are contested and tempers flare. Especially in times when everything seems to be documented somewhere, a surprise social media post, picture, or video can make its way into the discovery and litigation process and when things come out as a surprise, others can be caught off guard. What matters most is how people react to the unexpected that comes to light in the process of preparing for court and making a good impression. 

What to Avoid in the Litigation Process in and Out of Court 

When in litigation, especially in court, the clock is running, and the meter is ticking. Whether it be your attorney fees, the experts, the court reporter, the transcript, or the assistants, it costs time and money to fight. Being prudent is important. Identifying what issues are worth settling or pursuing should be figured out in Temporary Orders and mediation ideally so that all the professionals involved can focus on resolving the most important conflict. 

Avoid responding emotionally to what happens or is said. Showing weakness, joy, or too much emotion, in any case, is not a good plan when all eyes and ears are on you and the situation. It is not to say be robotic or aloof, but do appear sane and well-adjusted, even though your case might try the patience of everyone involved. 

Inside and Outside of the Courtroom when Everyone is Watching and Listening 

Do not make the mistake that there is a magic barrier between the Courtroom and the hallways or restrooms. Assume that everyone around s listening or recording. A heightened level of scrutiny is appropriate when at Court because there are people you may not know who may be interested in following, watching, and listening to you. It may be something as simple as making a phone call or speaking into the phone to send a text message and a leaked communication can lead to a problem.

Always keep a notepad with you when in Court and write down notes and questions for your lawyer. When appropriate show them your note or question and be mindful about how much you speak or respond.  

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