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Courtroom Etiquette During a Divorce

divorce lawyer talking to judge in courtroom with defendant present

For many people, a divorce is the first time they’ve spent any substantial amount of time in a courtroom. Many people are intimidated by spending time in a courtroom, unsure of how to behave before a judge or interact with courtroom staff. Rules of courtroom etiquette are important, but they aren’t complex. Below, learn about the most important rules of conduct to follow in a courtroom during your divorce, and contact a knowledgeable Illinois family law attorney for more information.

Arrive on time and dress appropriately

Courts are overbooked and short on time. Judges are unable to wait around for a belated litigant to appear, no matter how good the reason for their delay. Many courthouses now have security to pass through upon entering the premises, similar to that of an airport.Be sure to give yourself more than enough time to go through security when you arrive at court and have discussions with your attorney as to what to expect.

Dress appropriately

As a party to a divorce, it’s probably unnecessary for you to wear a suit to court, but dressing appropriately is your first opportunity to show the court that you are respectful of the court’s authority and engaged in the process. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if you’re heading to an interview.This means to wear clothing that covers tattoos.

Let your attorney do the talking

The reason you spent time, effort, and money hiring an attorney is so that they can speak and argue on your behalf before the judge. It is both against the rules of court and against your interests to interject your own comments in response to something your spouse or their attorney says in court. If you feel like there’s information your attorney should have in response to a statement made in court, the appropriate thing to do is to calmly write and pass a note to your lawyer. Do not speak in court unless you have been called as a witness or you’ve been addressed by the judge directly.

Avoid emotional reactions or outbursts

Divorce hearings and trials can stir reactions of anger and frustration that can be hard to control, but it is very important that you retain your composure while in court. The judge and opposing counsel are watching both parties closely, and an angry exclamation could end up diminishing the court’s sympathy for you or hurting your credibility as a witness. When hiding an emotional reaction becomes impossible without help, some divorcing spouses decide to write down their thoughts on a notepad as a way of getting them out without disrupting the proceedings.


If you’re planning on filing for divorce in Illinois and need compassionate, battle-tested, and professional legal help, contact the Chicago area family law attorneys at Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker and Newitt at 630-665-9600.

Johnson Westra Broker Whittaker & Newitt, P.C.

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