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Will your courtroom presence work against you in a custody case?

You've likely heard the term "dress for success." Nowhere is this more important than when appearing in court for a custody hearing. How you look and act in the courtroom can be the deciding factor in your children's custody arrangements.

Below are some tips to employ and pitfalls to avoid when going to court to win custody of your children during your divorce.

Be respectful

All of your interactions with the judge, your attorney and opposing counsel should be civil, polite and respectful. Remember that the judge has little on which to base his or her familiarity with you, so you want all of your interactions to be positive.

This means addressing the judge as "Your Honor" and replying "yes, Sir," or "No, Ma'am," when asked a question. It also means refraining from making any off-the-cuff remarks during questioning or rolling your eyes or muttering curses when your ex testifies.

Dress appropriately

Atlanta summers are hot and sticky and you may be quite uncomfortable in a three-piece suit. But you still should wear a long-sleeved shirt (don't forget an undershirt beneath it) and tie. Pants should be solid navy blue or black. Hair should be clean and neat. If long, it should be bound in a discreet ponytail. Remove piercings and cover visible tattoos with clothing or special cover-up make-up.

For women, dress conservatively as you would when attending church services. Low heels or flats and closed-toe shoes should be worn. Wear a long-sleeved dress or skirt and top. Minimize your jewelry — only a single pair of stud earrings should be worn. As with men, hair should be worn simply. Women with longer hair may want to twist it up into a bun or braid.

If you have any doubts about the suitability of your courtroom outfit, ask your Atlanta family law attorney for his or her opinion in the matter.

Source: Live About, "Win Child Custody: Practice Proper Courtroom Etiquette," Debrina Washington, accessed June 08, 2018

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