When you prepare for divorce court, the last thing on your mind may be your attire. You may assume that the judge will look at your case objectively, and focus on only the facts when making a decision. While it’s true that a judge will try to be as impartial as possible, the fact of the matter is that the way you dress – and how you act – can often influence outcomes in divorce court.
Deciding the future of a marriage is a complex matter, and knowing how to dress and act in the courtroom can make the difference between a positive, mutually beneficial arrangement and one rife with conflict. At Kallen Law Firm, LLC, our St. Louis divorce attorneys have worked with hundreds of clients in the divorce court setting, and along the way we’ve learned a few things about what works, and what doesn’t.
Dressing Tips for Women and Men in Divorce Court
First impressions can be difficult to overcome, and some research suggests that it takes less than a second for someone to form a lasting first impression. Unfortunately, this is especially true for women, due to the way in which our society often judges women’s appearance. If you’re a woman and preparing for your divorce court appearance, you may need to walk a fine line between self-expression and a more conservative demeanor in order to strike the right impression.
Some things women should consider when dressing for divorce court include:
- Minimizing bold colors and patterns. Many judges favor an austere presentation over fashion trends. Wearing loud prints or a brighter color could subconsciously influence the way you are perceived, so it’s best to stick with neutral colors and classic patterns.
- Wearing professional slacks or a dress. Regardless of your gender presentation, wearing professional clothing will emphasize to a judge that you are a responsible and committed citizen. While a dress is often recommended, you can also wear slacks and a tasteful button-down shirt. Above all, make sure that you look comfortable and polished.
- Avoiding revealing attire. One of the most common divorce myths is that mothers will always get custody. Although it’s based in bias, wearing low cut or revealing clothing can reduce your likeliness to get fair custody in court.
- Sticking to classic hairstyles. When considering your hair, it’s best to take a minimalist approach and avoid extreme trends. Make sure you are well-groomed and presentable, and stick to natural hair styles or a neat updo.
There are also obstacles that men face in dressing for divorce court, too, as there are already many negative biases against men in divorce cases. If the judge perceives that you are not as responsible or well-kempt, you may end up receiving a less favorable child custody or child support arrangement, even if that isn’t entirely based on the facts of your case.
Based on the reality of these perceptions, men on their way to divorce court should consider the following dressing tips:
- Wearing a suit and tie. Although it isn’t required, a well-tailored suit and tie can subtly communicate your responsibility to the judge. If you would prefer to wear something less formal, consider a well-ironed button-down shirt with slacks instead. Business casual is rarely a bad idea in the courtroom, as it communicates respect for yourself and others.
- Avoiding ripped jeans or otherwise revealing attire. Men also need to avoid any attire that some might consider too revealing, including ripped jeans, or clothing that fits too tightly through the body. Make sure that all your garments are properly fitted so that you can move comfortably while looking put-together.
- Covering tattoos and piercings. If you have any body art that a judge may subconsciously deem inappropriate or extreme, it’s best to cover them. Taking out any piercings beforehand and wearing garments that cover tattoos can remove this bias from the equation.
- Avoiding charged or political statements. We live in an age of unparalleled self-expression, but in divorce court, you want to avoid giving the judge any reason to distrust your judgment. Avoid t-shirts or accessories with potentially divisive statements.
Divorce Court Etiquette Tips and Tricks
The single most important rule about divorce court is that you should always keep your cool, and act in a professional and dignified way. It can be very difficult to avoid heated emotions during this time, but even one outburst can shift the course of your hearing. Conduct yourself as if you were in a job interview, and avoid any fidgeting or nervous movement that can betray a lack of confidence. Allow your attorney to take the lead, and avoid interruptions. Finally, always be on time! It’s critical that you show due respect for the court proceedings, and allow yourself enough time to prepare.
Other Recommended Reading:
- The Do’s and Dont’s When Going Through a Divorce
- What You Should Avoid Posting on Social Media during Divorce
- How Dating Can Affect Your Divorce Case
Do you need assistance with your divorce case in St. Louis? Contact our seasoned divorce lawyers at Kallen Law Firm, LLC for the compassionate counsel you need.