Do clear out your pockets or handbag before leaving home.
Courts often have metal detectors, and security staff will search your bags when you enter the building. Take in only what you need.
Don´t be late.
Allow time for traffic jams, finding parking places, missed buses, or cancelled trains. If applying for an emergency hearing, be at the court at 9am.
Do dress smartly as if you are attending an interview.
Judges like to be shown respect.
Do take an umbrella
It sounds obvious, but there is nothing worse than turning up in Court dripping wet.
Do ensure any paperwork you take with you is in something waterproof.
You don't need a smart briefcase. A plastic bag, rucksack or holdall is fine, but empty the pockets of anything you don't need. Security staff finding a camping knife is not going to look good!
Do take a coat or a jumper.
Some Courts can be baking hot while others can be chilly depending on the age of the Court building.
Do take a pad and pen into the Court.
Make notes, and if you need to say something to your solicitor (if you´re represented), write it down and hand it across to them (or a note saying "I need to speak to you about this"). The Judge is usually quite observant and will point out to the solicitor that "your client wishes to speak to you" and allow you some time.
Do use Court delay time.
If the hearing is delayed, and you find yourself at one end of a corridor with your solicitor, with your ex-partner at the other end with theirs, don´t waste this time (you´re paying for it) – negotiate! See if a compromise can be reached. Set your solicitor running up and down the corridor (they´re used to it).
Don´t interrupt the Judge.
Ever! There will be an opportunity to say what you want. The judge will usually notice if you want to say something.
Don´t stare at you ex.
Be respectful and sensible. Remember the judge is observing you, and their observance of you, how you behave and react, may impact on their opinion of you.
Don´t get angry - stay calm.
Again, if you come across as angry, obstinate, difficult, argumentative or display other negative emotions, a judge may decide this is what you are like outside of court.
Don´t make plans for the rest of the day.
You could be tied up for hours waiting for a slot in the judge´s diary even if a specific time for the hearing is listed. Other cases over-run.
Do make contingency plans in case you are tied up in Court for hours.
Make arrangements for the children to be picked up, and have enough cash on you for the parking meter.
Do take a drink and some food and something to read.
You may find yourself sitting around for hours.
Do turn off your mobile phone before you walk into the Court room.
Ring tones can be embarrassing, and the judge will likely be irritated.
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Michael Robinson © 2014
Family law information for parents whose children are resident in England and Wales
Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's printer for Scotland.