Child Custody Hearings: What to Wear and How to Prepare

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Aug 11, 2023 | 0 Comments

Although we've all heard the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover,” it seems that our human instincts can't help but form opinions based on first impressions. When dressing for an upcoming child custody hearing, you should aim to make the best possible impression on the court. Proper dress will not only show proper decorum for the court, but it can also significantly influence a judge's perception of your parenting abilities.

Why Dress Up for Court?

Your clothing, facial expressions, body language, and grooming habits all send nonverbal cues to the judge about your parenting capabilities. Although you may not think that an outfit can signify so much, think about the last time you spoke to someone who was half-dressed or appeared disheveled. Would you trust them with your most prized possessions? Now think about the last time you interacted with someone who appeared put together and approachable; didn't they seem “more responsible”?

Not only can your clothes impact how the court views you, but it can also impact how you view yourself. When we dress up, we tend to feel more confident. Humble confidence is especially important to demonstrate at child custody hearings because it demonstrates to the court that you have nothing to hide. Confidence will also help you articulate your case calmly and concisely.

Finally, dressing appropriately for the court also informs the court that you understand the seriousness of the matter. Like all court proceedings, child custody hearings demand a certain level of decorum and respect. A judge may be more open to hearing your side if they feel that their time and efforts are also being respected.

But What Should I Wear?

Dress in a manner that shows respect for the court. Would you want your attorney to show up to court in flip-flops and a tank top? Although your attorney may be hired to advocate on your behalf, you must also show respect for yourself. Opt for business or business-casual attire as if you were attending an important job interview. If you are stuck on what to wear, don't overthink it. Men can opt for a suit or slacks and a nice shirt. Women can opt for a full suit, slacks, a nice blouse, or a conservative dress that is not distracting. It's important to also make sure that your clothing is clean and wrinkle-free so that you both look and feel put together.

Other Do's And Don'ts

Do be punctual. Make a serious effort to arrive at the courthouse early. Finding your courtroom can take longer than you may expect. For instance, parking may be difficult to find, the security line at the entrance could be longer that day, and you may need extra time to navigate the courthouse and find the courtroom where your hearing will take place. Don't be tardy. Being tardy will only undermine the court's opinion of how responsible you are.

Do make sure that you shower and are well-groomed. Clean hair, a well-kept beard, or a shaven face all show that you have respect for yourself and can manage your time. Don't show up like you just rolled out of bed. Why would the court think you could take care of your child if you cannot take care of yourself?

Do be polite and respectful of everyone you interact with, including your counsel, court staff, your ex-partner, and their counsel. Don't be rude. If you are quick to anger or snarky, the court may think that you have an anger problem.

New Jersey Child Custody Attorney

If you have an upcoming child custody hearing, you may be stressing about what to wear, how to act, and how to prepare. Fortunately, you don't have to prepare alone, and our compassionate Lento Law Firm Family Law Team can help you every step of the way. Contact us today for a consultation by calling (888) 535-3686 or by using our online contact form.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.