Your actions and demeanor in court are of utmost importance. These actions can be determinative of the outcome of your case. During your court hearing, the judge and/or jury are usually always facing the parties and their attorneys. It is extremely important to treat the Court and its staff with respect.
We suggest the following ground rules for a court appearance or hearing:
- Be on time (or better yet, early). Generally, parties are not familiar with the courthouse that they are visiting. Parking can be confusing, and in Harris and Fort Bend counties, there are different floors that the actual courtrooms are located on. Especially in the morning, the courthouses are very busy and there may not always be someone you can stop and ask for help. You will generally have to go through an airport-style security screen. It is imperative that you provide yourself enough time to park, go through security, find the courtroom, find your attorney, and get settled before the judge begins the docket call.
- Dress appropriately. You should dress like you are going to a job interview. Your clothes should be neat and tidy. You can see more detailed recommendations on appropriate court attire here.
- Show respect. Your actions should show that you have respect for the Court, their staff, and the judicial process. You should turn off your phone, not just silence it (many courts require this). You should not chew gum or have any sort of food or drink.
- You should always address the judge as “Your Honor” and stand up when you are speaking to the judge.
- You should not bring your children with you. In most family courts, children are not welcome to step inside the courtroom. The family court topics are generally too emotionally charged for children.
- Do not interrupt the judge, your attorney, or the opposing attorney. Do not argue with the judge, your attorney, or the opposing attorney. You will get a turn to tell your story.
- Be aware of your body language. Do not roll your eyes or fidget. Ensure that you are paying attention and listening to the court proceedings.
- Take a deep breath and remain calm. Family courts can be very emotional, but it is so important to speak clearly, carefully and calmly.
It is important to provide these rules for any witnesses that you are bringing to court to testify on your behalf.