Copyright (c) 2010 Lucille Uttermohlen
When I was a kid, my least favorite people were stuffy adults. I went out of my way to tweak their noses and offend their sense of propriety. This was a job I did well because I enjoyed it so much.
Not much has changed since I was young. I’d like to say that is because not much time has passed since then, but I never tell a lie even I find unbelievable. I still like to give “authority” a run for its money, and it seems to like to return the favor by giving me a run for my life. Having established myself as not particularly reverent towards the government and its protocol, I do believe that the following tips will help you negotiate the courtroom in your divorce case.
1. Be careful how you dress. You are trying to make yourself look believable. Would you trust a doctor who wore her bikini to the operating room?
If you are telling the judge something, she needs to be able to trust your ability to be observant and truthful. If you look like you just stumbled out of bed with a hangover, the court might be inclined to doubt your honesty. This may seem unfair, , but remember, the judge doesn’t have that long to acquaint himself with you, and he has to rely on first impressions. If you look like you just woke up after a wild night’s partying, the judge doesn’t have any other information to tell him that you are actually a fine, upstanding citizen who just takes casual to a new level.
2. Don’t dress for play. Shorts and flip flops belong on the beach. Tight skirts and low cut blouses are generally considered evening wear. In court, you are trying to look formal, so that you will be believable. You don’t have to wear a suit. Tails and gowns are unnecessary. However, clean slacks and a modest blouse will never offend.
3. Don’t marinate in fragrance. First of all, what may be a sweet floral bouquet to you may be the very stuff of allergies to those sharing the courtroom with you. It is fine to wear a little discrete scent. However, if your perfume announces your approach before your body is even in sight, you may get the sense that people are rushing you off. It’s nothing personal. They’d have the same reaction to a skunk, and skunks are even cute.
4. If you are being called as a witness, soap and water should be recent indulgences. Tooth brushes are nice, too. No one likes to sit in close quarters with someone whose personal hygiene is questionable. The judge isn’t interested in what you had for lunch just now, let alone what you ate last night or the week before. We all have bodies, and we know how bad they can smell, so there’s no reason to accidentally educate the court on that subject.
5. Leave the little ones at home. Getting a baby-sitter isn’t always easy, but you’ll be glad you did. A bored screaming child does nothing to help the court and parties deal with the business at hand. . Besides, you’ll be able to fully concentrate on the proceedings if you’re not worried about getting little Jill to the bathroom on time while you’re trying to testify.
You may think the above tips are obvious. If so, I understand, and am glad your mother taught you how to act in public. However, you would be surprised at how many people treat court like the most casual, unimportant thing on their to do list. The fact is that the judge has their future in his absolute control, and needs to understand their testimony to make a fair decision. Dressing for court and leaving your kids at home may not guarantee victory, but they can’t hurt, and may well help.
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