One of the most common questions we get from clients is how to dress for any of the particular types of proceedings that they may encounter during a divorce or family court case. A few examples are covered below, including how to dress for going to the family courtroom, in addition to picking out your wardrobe for appearing at a mediation or deposition.
How to Dress for Family Court
If you have a hearing or motion in family court, you will be generally be appearing in a courtroom with the judge, the judge's staff, a bailiff, other attorneys and other parties. It goes without saying that it is important for you to make the right impression as this is generally the most formal place that you will be appearing throughout your divorce or custody case.
Business professional, and possibly business casual, are the recommended choices of attire in family court. Many men choose to wear a suit, while women may wear . We advise our clients to dress naturally given their profession, so a pair of khakis and polo shirt may be appropriate. We have also had military clients appear in their uniform. However, you need to discuss with your attorney what your divorce judge prefers, as some courts have stricter dress codes than others.
Don't overdo it. You may give off the impression that you are trying to overcompensate for some shortcoming in your case if you come dressed in a tuxedo or three piece suit. Furthermore, it may be harder to explain to the judge while you shouldn't pay top dollar maintenance/alimony or child support if your wardrobe (or at least what you show on the day of court) is of the highest caliber.
How to Dress for Mediation
Mediation is a more relaxed venue than court, as this session devoted to settling your case generally occurs at one of the attorneys' offices. Usually each party is in a separate conference with his or her attorney, and the mediator goes back and forth while working on a deal.
Business casual is generally appropriate for a mediation, although given the season and the circumstances, such as the accommodations of the building where the mediation is being held, more casual attire may be acceptable. Mediations are generally scheduled for half a day or a full day, with a possible break for lunch, so taking layers and settling in for the long haul may be an appropriate strategy. Again, discuss the specifics with your divorce attorney so you can get specific advice about the peculiars of the mediator and the office where you are mediating.
How to Dress for Your Deposition
A deposition also generally occurs at one of the lawyers' offices. Present are the attorneys, along with a court reporter and usually the parties involved in the case. One of the lawyers asks questions to a party or a witness, which can take several hours.
This proceeding is more formal than mediation, but usually feels less formal than court given that the deposition is not conducted in the courtroom. We recommend to our clients to follow the guidelines we provide for court attire when preparing for a deposition.