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Does courtroom etiquette matter when seeking custody?

It seems like courtroom etiquette should not matter during a custody case. Shouldn't the decision be based on hard facts, like where the child wants to live, how well you can provide for the child, and what legal rights you have as a parent?

It should be, and these things factor in heavily. However, experts note that courtroom etiquette can make a difference. So does the way that you dress when you show up in court. In both ways, you want to aim to impress.

As far as etiquette goes, this means being calm and respectful. Don't verbally attack your ex or the judge, even when things don't seem fair. Don't let emotions get the best of you. Be confident and understand your rights, but don't be combative. Show up on time and act professionally.

You also need to dress professionally. This doesn't mean it's a black-tie event, but you may want to wear professional work clothes, like a suit. Put on a nice pair of dress shoes. Don't pick anything with bright colors.

Why does this matter? Remember, the judge is trying to form an opinion of you and determine what is best for the child. The little details play a big role, especially when it comes to first impressions.

For example, if you show up in casual clothes, you're ten minutes late, and you keep yelling at your spouse -- whether it's justified or not -- the judge is going to be wary of giving you custody. You can't control your temper, which is concerning. Plus, if the child is really important to you, why was he or she not important enough for you to dress nicely and show up on time?

If you've never been through this process before, be sure you're well aware of your legal rights, what steps to take, and how to give yourself the best chance of winning custody.

Source: The Spruce, "How to Get Sole Custody of Your Kids," Debrina Washington, accessed Aug. 24, 2017

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