First impressions matter, especially in divorce court. Although how you behave and what you say will matter the most, how you dress will also be taken into consideration. You want the judge or magistrate to see you as someone who is mature, responsible, and credible. Showing proper respect for the courtroom will result in the courtroom staff respecting you.
The following are several tips on how to dress for your divorce court hearing:
- Wear something business casual – Since this is a formal occasion, you should dress in a dignified manner. For men, a suit and tie or a jacket with dress slacks is preferable. Women should wear a conservative dress, pantsuit, or a combination of a formal blouse and slacks. Avoid wearing anything too flashy or too revealing. Do not wear shirts, tank tops, shorts, and sandals to court.
- Wear the right colors – Both men and women should opt for dark-colored attire since it looks more professional. Avoid wearing bright or light colors since they are not viewed as formal. Remember, you shouldn’t dress to distract.
- Get a haircut – Schedule a haircut or hair appointment two weeks before your court appearance. If you have long hair, neatly tie it back. Make sure your hair doesn’t appear wet, messy, dirty, unnaturally dyed, or covered with a hat or hairnet.
- Have good hygiene – Although it may sound like common sense, make sure you take a shower before going to court. Do not forget to brush your teeth and use mouthwash. Men should either shave or trim their mustache/beard. Women should wear very conservative makeup. If you perspire a lot, make sure you wear deodorant and bring a handkerchief to wipe away your sweat.
- Avoid over accessorizing – Wearing too much jewelry can draw negative attention on yourself and make you appear pretentious. If you want to be taken seriously, wear less jewelry. Additionally, cover up any visible tattoos. While tattoos have become more acceptable in today’s society, they are still considered taboo in the courtroom.
Here are some things women should consider when dressing for divorce court:
- Limiting the use of bright colors and patterns. Fashion trends are not as important to judges as austerity. It is best to wear neutral colors and classic patterns and refrain from wearing loud prints or bright colors, as these could subconsciously affect the way you are perceived.
- Dressing in business slacks or a dress. Wearing professional clothing indicates to a judge that you are a responsible and committed citizen, regardless of your gender presentation. Slacks and a tasteful button-down shirt work just as well as a dress. Most importantly, look comfortable and put-together.
- Avoid wearing revealing clothing. It is a common myth that mothers always get custody in divorce. Though it's based on bias, wearing low cut or revealing clothing can reduce your likelihood of getting fair custody in court.
- Maintaining classic hairstyles. Take a minimalist approach to your hair and avoid extreme trends. Keep your hair neatly up-doed or in a natural style, and ensure you are well-groomed.
As divorce cases already have many negative biases against men, dressing for divorce court is also a challenge for men. When the judge perceives that you are not as responsible or well-kempt, you may receive a less favorable child support or custody arrangement, even if those aren't entirely based on the facts of your case.
Due to this perception, men heading to divorce court should consider the following dressing tips:
- Dressed in a suit and tie. While it isn't required, a well-tailored suit and tie can subtly convey your responsibility. Consider wearing a well-ironed button-down shirt with slacks instead, if you prefer something less formal. As long as you are respectful of yourself and others, business casual is rarely a bad idea in courtrooms.
- Avoid ripped jeans or other revealing clothing. Furthermore, men need to avoid wearing any clothing that may be considered too revealing, such as ripped jeans or clothing that fits too closely. Ensure that all your clothes are properly fitted so that you can move comfortably while looking polished.
- Coverage of tattoos and piercings. In the event that a judge may subconsciously deem your body art inappropriate or extreme, it would be best to cover it. It is possible to remove this bias by getting rid of any piercings and wearing clothing that covers tattoos.
- Avoiding political or charged statements. Although we live in an era of unprecedented self-expression, you should avoid giving a judge any reason to doubt your judgment in divorce court. Avoid wearing items with divisive statements on them.
Tips and Tricks for Divorce Court Etiquette
You should always act professionally and dignified in divorce court. This is the most important rule you should follow. Even one outburst can change the trajectory of your hearing. During this time, it may be difficult to avoid heated emotions. Be sure not to fidget or move nervously, which can be indicative of a lack of confidence. Let your lawyer take charge and avoid interruptions. Don't be late! The most important aspect of the court proceedings is that you show due respect and allow yourself enough time to prepare.
Take the time to do everything right before you step into the courtroom. Speak with your lawyer if you have any questions about how to prepare for your day in court.