Going to court is usually very stressful, no matter why you have to be there. Even if you think you are a generally organized and calm person, in the midst of such pressures as arguing for your fair share of assets in a divorce or trying to gain custody of your child(ren), you might get frazzled. In order to cut down on anxiety, here are a few recommendations:

Dress Nicely and Appropriately. First impressions are key. All people, including jurors and judges, have biases. Their opinions will immediately begin to form when they first see you. You can have a great visual first impression by dressing professionally. Business professional for women includes a suit with either a knee-length skirt or dress pants, a nice blouse, and closed-toed dress shoes (which may be flats or heels with a maximum four-inch height). Professional business for men includes a suit or sport coat and nice slacks. Jewelry should not be flamboyant and should be kept to a minimum. The same rule applies to makeup.

Always Tell the Truth. Not only is it perjury to lie while under oath, your case could be severely hurt if you are caught in a lie. If something you say does not match the facts, it could destroy your credibility and jeopardize your chance of winning.

Be Polite and Speak Only When Spoken To. Your fate is in the judge’s or jurors’ hands. If they perceive that you are rude, that will not fare well. You should stand when you are addressing the judge, whenever he enters the courtroom, and whenever he speaks to you, unless you are seated on the witness stand. You should address the judge as “Your Honor.” It is very important not to speak while you are in the courtroom and court is in session.

Know Your Case. Even though your attorney should know your case forward and backward, it is crucial for you to know the important facts that are being argued.

Stay Calm. This one is easier said than done, but it is critical to be focused and completely answer each question that is asked. People do this best when they are composed.

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