Navigating the courthouse on your family law court date can be an intimidating task. Most people have never been to the courthouse. Those that have may have been there for something simple such as a traffic ticket or jury duty. This blog seeks to provide some guidance to individuals who are in a family law proceeding and will have to make court appearances. This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a family law attorney.
Be on Time
Take care to get to court on time. You will know what time you are supposed to be present. If you are unclear, ask your family law attorney or call the courthouse Allot plenty of time to find parking, get to the courthouse from your parking spot, go through security, and find your courtroom. In Mecklenburg County, your courtroom will likely be on the 8th floor.
Wear Appropriate Attire
You should wear business casual or business formal attire. You should be properly covered at all times. The impression that you make on the judge matters.
Everybody understands that a courtroom is a formal environment. Conduct yourself with this in mind. Always be respectful and quiet. Do not have conversations inside of the courtroom. If you have a question, ask a bailiff (or your family law attorney if you are represented). When you are in trial or another proceeding, do not make facial expressions, roll your eyes, or talk out of turn. When you address the judge, always stand up. Address the judge as “Your Honor.”
Some courthouses do not allow members of the general public to bring cellular phones into the courthouse. Other courthouses allow the public to bring cell phones into the courthouse, but people may not use their cell phones in the courtroom. In Mecklenburg County, members of the general public are permitted to use their cell phones (texting, social media, etc.) inside of the courtroom. In Mecklenburg County and other counties that allow this, make sure your cell phone is on silent. If it goes off, the bailiff may confiscate it. Also, note that is illegal in North Carolina to take a picture inside a courtroom.
Food and Drink
You are not permitted to consume food or drinks inside of the courtroom. A bottle of water is generally fine.
Expect to Wait
Family Court judges have very crowded dockets. There will be dozens of other people waiting their turn. If your case is set for a final trial, you likely will not have the same wait times as someone who is there for something other than a final hearing.
If you are in involved in a family law proceeding or are interested in starting a family law action, you should speak with a family law attorney. Contact us to set up a consultation.