The idea of appearing in court to testify in a contested divorce or other family law matter can be terrifying for an involved party. A lot is on the line, including custody of children or property, and a person needs to put their best foot forward, both literally and figuratively. While the family law court system is decidedly more casual than other systems
such as civil litigation or federal courts, it is important that litigants dress in an appropriate manner. Here are some tips for what to wear at a typical contested hearing, whether it’s for a divorce, child custody case, or any other family law issue.
Suit and Tie? Not always necessary
In today’s casual day and age it’s not uncommon for a person to not own a suit. Luckily for family law litigants, a suit is not required when testifying or appearing in court. If you own a suit and it fits nicely then by all means wear it; however, don’t go breaking the bank on a new suit if you don’t currently own one. Business casual can look just as good as a suit. Dresses, slacks, skirts, and dress shirts can all be worn in court without the necessity of a suit jacket.
Put your best foot forward
Open-toed shoes are an absolute no-no. Sandals, flip flops, strappy heels, etc. should all be avoided when dressing for court. The same can be said for shoes more appropriate for the club or the gym. Men should wear dress shoes, loafers, or boots. Women should stick to closed-toed shoes with a sensible heel height.
Save the gun show for outside the courtroom
You do not have the right to bare arms inside the courtroom. Even during the hottest days of a Texas summer, it is not appropriate to wear tank tops to court, even if it is on the dressier side. If you’re a lady and you would like to wear a tank top under a sweater that is okay, but unless you have something to wear over the tank you are likely to be asked to wait outside in the hallway. Cap sleeves for the ladies can sometimes show too much arm, so check with your attorney or the court before you show up to make sure what you are wearing is appropriate.
Profane messages or humorous items of clothing should be avoided
No matter how funny you think your t-shirt is, a judge will not find it amusing. A judge will perceive it as an example of your poor judgment and that is never good for your case.
Don’t wear a hat. Don’t bring a hat. Even if you wear a hat for most of your waking hours, take it off before you head to court. Wearing a hat will be viewed as disrespectful. It will draw the ire of both the court bailiffs and the judge.
Less is More
It can be very difficult for a judge to take pity on a financially destitute party if they are decked out head to toe in Chanel. It can also make the argument of a person who failed to pay child support that they have no money unbelievable if they are wearing a flashy Rolex watch. It’s best to leave obvious brands or expensive accessories at home. Judges (and opposing attorneys) notice what the people in front of them are wearing so make sure to dress simply. Even fake bags or jewelry can give off an appearance that may result in an unfavorable decision toward your case so save the flashy items of clothing for when you are not in court.