At some point during your divorce, you may have to appear in court before a judge. This can be a daunting prospect – particularly if a judge is deciding on an issue that you and your spouse couldn’t agree on yourselves.
Your appearance – including the way you’re dressed – can have an influence on the judge. Some people are used to dressing in business attire. However, what if you’re a full-time mom, a work-at-home parent or your job involves wearing a uniform or casual, comfortable clothes? Pulling together a look that will show the judge that you’re an upstanding person and that you take the courtroom and the matter at hand seriously without looking like you’re trying to be someone you’re not can be a challenge.
The best place to start is with your attorney. They’ve probably been in this judge’s courtroom before. They know whether they’re ultraconservative and expect everyone to be in suits (and disdain women in pants) or if they don’t particularly care what people wear, but they can spot someone who’s trying too hard a mile away.
Making a good first impression
Regardless, first impressions in a courtroom are important. Your first impression may be the only one you get to make with this judge. Here are some general rules:
- Men should wear a collared, tucked-in shirt and tie. A jacket may be optional. Long pants (preferably belted), closed-toe shoes and socks are necessary.
- Women should wear a sweater or blouse and a skirt or long pants or a dress. Skirts or dresses should be at least at your knee. Dress shoes are probably best.
What not to wear
The things you should avoid are perhaps more important. Most of these apply to both genders:
- Hats (especially baseball caps)
- Jeans or baggy pants
- Anything see-through or that exposes your underwear or stomach
- Clothing with any kind of message, slogan or drawing
- Multiple piercings
- Heavy make-up
- Visible tattoos
- Long, brightly colored nails
- Brightly colored hair or extensions
It’s probably best to leave the Hermes bag, Rolex watch or Tom Ford suit at home – especially if you’re trying to get higher (or lower) support payments.
If in doubt, ask your family law attorney or show them your planned look before your court appearance day. Take their advice. They’ve probably been in court a lot more than you have. Take advantage of their experience.