- Firm Overview
- Practice Areas
- Family Law Victories
- Personal Injury Victories
- Info Center
"How should I dress and act when I go to court for an Illinois divorce?"
Most Illinois divorces do not require a contested trial or hearing. However, even these cases may require you to go to court and appear before a divorce judge and testify at a "prove up." A "prove up" is a brief hearing to see if your case will be approved and your divorce will be granted. These hearings, as well as contested trials, are ones in which you will appear in person.
How you present yourself to the judge can make all the difference in the world. There are times when a judge will, in fact, decide your future as well as your fate. Certainly the judge will determine the outcome of your divorce.
Your appearance counts.
Men may come directly from work to a court room as though they were coming right off the job. A DuPage or Cook County divorce judge may take this is a sign of disrespect. So dress appropriately.
An experienced divorce lawyer can guide you how to dress appropriately for your case. Sometimes there are subtleties that actually make a difference. I once had a lady client who came to my office each time in full makeup, a short skirt, and high?heeled shoes. She would be known now as a "hot chick."
On the eve of her children’s custody trial before her divorce judge, I told her to wear flat shoes and a long sleeved dress with tiny flowers on it – just like you would if you were going to church.
The next day she came to court with very little make up and the long dress with tiny flowers. We won her custody trial. A few days later I received a “thank you” note from her along with a package containing the long dress with the tiny flowers. She wrote that she thought the flowered dress won the day and made all the difference in winning her case. Who knew? It certainly did not hurt.
The Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County has guidelines on how to dress in court. These dress guidelines make sense not only for divorce court but for any court throughout the State of Illinois. These guidelines can be found on the Circuit Court of Cook County website.
Good body language counts in Illinois divorce cases.
Sit properly in court next to your lawyer. Do not slouch just like your mother told you. Appear interested in the case whether are interested or just bored. The judge will be watching you to see your reactions as the case progresses. The judge will be observing your level of interest and involvement with the issues he or she is to decide.
Be polite to both the court, with whom should be referred to as "Your Honor," and to the court room staff, with whom you should call “Sir” or “Ma'am.”
Answer truthfully, even though you think your answer might hurt you.
Illinois divorce judges are particularly keen about deciding when a spouse is lying to them, even about relatively unimportant matters. There is an old saying in divorce law: "Once a liar, always a liar." So, if you lie about simple things, the judge will assume you are lying about everything.
Answer the question asked of you, particularly if the judge asks you a question – even if you think it might hurt you to answer. Answer the question directly. Illinois judges hate, with a passion, witnesses who appear to be evasive or trying to hide their answers or avoid questions.
You are better off taking the heat by answering the question than trying to be evasive and have the judge decide that you are just another litigant who cannot seem to find the truth in their own testimony.
An experienced divorce lawyer, such as our lawyers at Martoccio & Martoccio, can help you to learn how to answer questions properly. We can help to give honest answers that will not hurt you. It is essential that your divorce lawyer goes over your testimony in advance with you before you testify in any case. You did not get married without a dress rehearsal. Do not think that you can get successfully divorced without going over your testimony. Prepare ahead of time and rehearse. Contact an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer today.