Preparing for Your Divorce Court Hearing: Do‘s and Don’ts

The following identifies several questions you may have as you prepare for your divorce court hearing and provides helpful tips for courtroom etiquette.

What Should I Wear to a Court Hearing? Divorce court is a business type of environment. Dress in a way that shows respect for the divorce court. You should avoid wearing shorts, tank tops, flip-flop sandals and ripped clothing. Dress to impress.

When Should I Arrive at Court? Arrive at the courthouse at least 30 minutes before your scheduled divorce court appearance. It is very important that you allow time to park and find your courtroom. If you miss your hearing, the judge can make decisions that you may not agree with and which could seriously affect you.

What about Court Security? Upon entering the courthouse, you will be expected to pass through a metal detector. Any metal object on your body must be removed and inspected.

How Do I Find the Correct Courtroom? Most courts post a list of cases in the lobby of the courthouse. If you need help locating your name, ask a court employee for help. Contact the clerk or the bailiff in the courtroom to let them know you have arrived and to make sure you are in the correct courtroom. Let them know if you need to leave the courtroom for any reason.

What Materials Should I Bring to a Court Hearing? Bring copies of all documents that you have filed with the divorce court and that you have been served with. The court will not have these documents for you. Also bring copies of the documents that support your case. Organize your evidence so that it is easy for the judge to understand your side of the story.

We also recommend that you bring pens and paper for taking notes during the hearing. This ensures you remember what is said in divorce court, as well as any instructions the Judge may give you.

Cellphones are NOT allowed in court. Be sure to leave them at home or in your car.

How Long Will I Have to Wait? It is very likely that you will have to wait for your case to be called, depending on the number of other people in court that day and the order in which the judge calls cases. For some cases, you might need to plan on being there all day. Some courts do not allow children in the courtroom. Make sure to schedule enough time away from work or for child care so that you will not miss your divorce court appearance.

Can I Bring My Children to a Court Hearing? Do NOT bring children into a family court hearing unless required by the judge in advance. You should not bring children to the courthouse, even if the matter being heard involves them, unless you have been ordered by the judge to do so or the child is to be called as a witness. If you cannot avoid bringing your children to the courthouse, then you should bring an adult to watch them while you are inside the courtroom.

How Do I Address the Judge? You should always stand when talking to the judge, referring to him or her “Your Honor.” Never interrupt the judge when he or she is speaking. Respond politely and answer any questions honestly and completely.

Will the Judge Help Me Argue My Case? Court personnel, including Judges, cannot give you any legal advice. Your assigned Judge may explain the process to you, but know that this does not mean the Judge is giving advice about your case.

Do I Need Witnesses for a Divorce Court Hearing? You are your own witness. Be sure to explain your position to the judge in a calm and organized manner. The clearer you are with what you want and why you feel it is the best solution, the more likely it is that the judge will agree.

If you have questions about your case or are unsure about the process, click-here to schedule an appointment with one of DivorceNM’s expert attorneys.

This post is also available in: Spanish