You only get one chance to make a first impression at your child custody hearing, and the opinion you give the judge is a very important one.
When you are going through a child custody hearing, it’s important to look your best because the judge is taking into consideration how capable you are of taking care of children.
Whether we like it or not, our appearance does say a lot about us and how we treat others. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy the latest trends or get an expensive haircut. Instead, we’ll cover some simple tips that we’ve learned over decades of helping with custody hearings that should help you feel prepared.
Tip #1: Sleep Habits
We understand that this has probably been a stressful and possibly even sleepless time for you as you think about the future of your family.
But a lack of sleep makes it hard to think clearly and inhibits decision-making, so make sure that your preparation starts the night before. Not only will a lack of sleep the night before your custody hearing make you feel irritable and miserable, but it will also show in your appearance.
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, try a guided meditation, write a list of the things you’re worried about to get them off your mind, or find a relaxing book that you can easily fall asleep to while reading.
Tip #2: Grooming
While appearance is certainly not the most important part of parenting, the judge will appreciate seeing that you know how to teach your children to clean and present themselves well.
Like we mentioned before, you don’t have to go out and get an expensive haircut or buy new makeup, but you should have clean hair, skin, nails, and teeth and no body odor. Also, refrain from wearing heavy cologne, perfume, or intense scents of any kind.
Tip #3: Dress to Impress
Your hearing is all about making a good impression, so your outfit should match the occasion. You wouldn’t wear a tuxedo to visit a fast-food restaurant, nor would you wear flip flops to a ballet.
You’ll want something that fits well and is clean and ironed. Don’t feel that you have to hide your personality or fit yourself into a box, but it’s best to play it safe in this case. Tattoos can sometimes give a negative impression, so you may consider wearing clothes that cover them.
You should avoid wearing:
- sleeveless shirts
- open-toed shoes
- tennis shoes (sneakers)
- tight or revealing clothing
- excessive piercings
- wild hairstyles
Some appropriate clothing choices for men would be:
- Collared shirt
- Dark suit
- Dress shoes
- Skirt suit
- Non or lightly patterned dress
- Dress shoes/pumps
- Slacks and a blouse
If you don’t own these types of clothes, consider asking friends and family to borrow an outfit before you buy something new. You don’t need to spend a huge amount of money to look nice at your hearing.
Tip #4: Respectful Behavior
Your manners are also a big part of the impression you leave with the judge. While this is a serious occasion, remember to smile and show that you’re easy to work with. These situations can cause intense emotions but remember the real reason you’re there and what you’re trying to accomplish.
- If you normally chew gum, pick at your fingernails, or do any other nervous ticks, try to remind yourself of these and stop yourself from doing them.
- Make eye contact
- Sit and stand up straight
- While sitting, keep your legs crossed or planted directly on the floor in front of you
There are lots of little behaviors that send signals to show that you’re paying attention and being respectful of those around you, so think about how you like to be treated and do the same to others.
Tip #5: Be Prepared
You may want to bring an extra outfit in the car just in case something happens on the way over or right before your hearing. Keep some breath mints on hand (just don’t be eating one when you walk in to meet the judge). Make sure that you have a purse or pocket for your phone, keys, and wallet一you don’t want to simply be holding your phone and keys in your hand.
The Bottom Line
Remember that a custody hearing is not the time to look stylish or unkempt. The goal with your appearance is to show that you are mature, respectful, and fully capable of providing a safe and healthy place for your child/ren.
If you’re looking for help with your child custody hearing in Orange County, contact Monarch Family Law. Our experienced team of child custody lawyers will guide you through the process and help you make the best impression possible.