Family Court Etiquette

If you think your attitude or appearance doesn’t matter in Family Court, consider that both could influence the judge in his rulings, including contempt of court. Whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant, or even a witness in a lawsuit, your appearance, dress, and actions can affect how the court sees you and how successful you are in presenting your case.

Respect for the Court

A courtroom is a solemn place, a judge demands respect as a representative of the government, whether it is federal, state, or local. Specific rules apply to those who are bringing cases to court or who have cases brought against them. In fact, anyone appearing before the court, including witnesses and members of the public, have the responsibility to act with respect.

•Arrive early and prepared. You might have to sit and wait, but that is far better than running late. Arrive late and you might find your case passed by.

• Gum chewing, tobacco, recording devices (like pda’s or ipods), cell phones, food, beverages, or newspapers are NOT allowed.

• Cell phones are not allowed in many courtrooms. If you are permitted to bring your cell phone, TURN IT OFF!

• Children are not allowed in Nevada Family Court, unless the judge requests it through formal means.

•In general, you must have permission to move beyond a certain point toward the judge or jury. Follow your attorney’s instruction.

•When addressing the judge, say “Your Honor,” not “Judge Smith.” Talk only to the judge and (in a soft voice) to your attorney. Do not address the opposing counsel or other party. When referring to others, do not use first names. It’s “Mr. Smith,” not “Jim,” even if he is your brother-in-law.

• Speak only when instructed or given permission by your attorney. Only one person speaks at a time. Don’t interrupt anyone, especially the judge or opposing party. When you answer questions, be brief and to the point; answer the question you were asked and stop.

• Use formal English, not slang.

• Be aware of your body language. Do not slouch in the chair, fold your arms or make facial expressions in any way towards anything said in court, negatively or not.

Clothing Attire

• Wear modest business or business casual clothing, if you do not have a suit or tie; No open shoes, flip-flops, tank tops, mini skirts, T-shirts, or other non-business attire.

• If you are in doubt what to wear, dress up more rather than less;

• Don’t wear a hat unless it is for religious reasons.

• No wild hairstyles.

As part of our full-service, we prepare all clients for their appearances in court. If you have any questions, please give us a call.