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How to Act and Dress in Court

Showing the Court the Respect It Deserves

The thought of attending court might sound frightening at first, especially if you have seen a lot of courtroom drama on television. However, what you see on screen and what occurs in real life are drastically different. People dress professionally and act respectfully when attending court, and it’s imperative that you follow these same principles when attending court. Continue reading to learn the importance of dressing and acting respectfully in divorce court.

Behaving Respectfully in Court

While it might seem like common sense to behave respectfully in court, many people do not realize how their behavior can be interpreted by a judge. Simply put, how you act in court reflects how seriously you take the proceedings. If you show up late or fail to dress appropriately, it sends the message that you do not respect the court's time or authority. Likewise, talking out of turn or interrupting the judge shows a lack of decorum.

Of course, there are certain instances where it is impossible to avoid being disruptive. If you have young children with you, they may make noise or cause a commotion. In these cases, it is best to apologize to the judge and explain that you will do your best to control the situation.

Dressing Respectfully for Court

What you wear to court also sends a message about how much respect you have for the proceedings. Remember that first impressions matter. If you are trying to prove yourself as an upstanding citizen, dressing like one will help your case. Conversely, showing up to court looking disheveled or unkempt can reflect poorly on your character.

So what should you wear to court to show respect for the legal process? Consider the following guidelines:

  • Think about the occasion for which you are dressing. You would not want to show up to work wearing your pajamas or workout clothes. Similar thoughts should occur when preparing to go to court.

  • You should also remember that how you dress communicates a lot about you. Even if you are a more relaxed person, you would not want to show up to court wearing what you would wear lounging around your home.

  • A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is to consider wearing items that people would wear under a “business casual” dress code.

  • Specifically, consider wearing items such as collared polo shirts, blouses, and Oxford shirts. If you have tattoos, consider wearing long sleeves to completely cover them for the proceedings.

  • While jeans are comfortable, they are less professional in appearance compared to slacks, khaki pants, or a skirt.

  • Blazers, sweaters, cardigans, and sports coats are excellent choices to wear depending on your comfort in wearing them as well as the weather.

  • Remember your shoes, too. Try to steer away from sandals, sneakers, and flip-flops.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to divorce court, how you dress and behave says a lot about how seriously you take the proceedings. By dressing respectfully and behaving professionally, you can send the message that you are taking the process seriously and being respectful of the court's time and authority.


If you have questions about divorce or courtroom behavior, be sure to ask your family law attorney.