Going to court can be intimidating, especially if your court date involves domestic violence allegations. Most people only know about courtroom proceedings from movies or television. This leaves room for a lot of misconceptions. Your hearing will run much more smoothly if you have an idea of what to expect and how to prepare.
What should I expect?
There are generally two functions of a domestic violence hearing: For the court to decide whether to grant or withdraw a protective order, and for the court to decide child custody arrangements. At the hearing, you and your partner will each state your cases to a judge. If your partner is petitioning for an order of protection, the judge will decide whether to grant it. If you and your partner have children, the judge will decide whether your current custody arrangement is safe for them.
How should I prepare?
You can never prepare too much for a court hearing. These are a few of the main things to remember as you prepare:
- Obey courtroom etiquette
How you present yourself in court can affect the outcome of your hearing. Obey courtroom etiquette by dressing in clean, professional clothes. Do not chew gum, eat or drink in court. If you are allowed to keep your cell phone in the courtroom, turn it off completely. Address the judge as “Your Honor,” and stand when you speak to them.
- Run through your case
You and your attorney should run through your arguments before you appear in court. Discuss all aspects of your case. Ask your attorney any questions that you have beforehand so that you do not need to ask them at the hearing. You should also discuss the potential outcomes of your hearing–the good, and the bad.
- Be respectful
Emotions often run high in court. You will be opposite your partner in a high-stress situation. Nevertheless, it is crucial that you do not let your emotions get out of check. Control any angry outbursts; your demeanor should be calm, polite and respectful.