What to Expect When You Are Expecting – Court?

Rabab Buhari

May 1, 2024
Family Lawyer in Toronto

Your court date is in a few days, and we understand that it can be very daunting. By now, you would have had a conversation with your lawyer about what the process is like. However, we also wanted to send you this list with regard to how to dress and act in court. The court is a formal process, and as such, there are rules that need to be followed. We also do not want to do anything that will annoy the judge or complicate your matter. So, here goes:

1. Please show up to court at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time if it is an in-person appearance. If it is on Zoom, please log in 15 minutes before the scheduled time.

2. Where to meet the lawyer differs from court to court, but it would be somewhere around the Family Law court, so ask for directions there; we will be waiting for you or will meet you there.

3. Regardless of whether the appearance is on Zoom or in person, please dress business casual.

4. Please do not slouch when you sit. The judge may think of this as carefree behaviour. We do not want to give this impression. Sit up straight.

5. Do not be alarmed if we refer to opposing counsel as “my friend.” It does not mean that we are actually friends. It is simply how lawyers refer to each other as outlined by the rules of professional conduct.

6. Do not be alarmed if we appear to have a good relationship with opposing counsel. This actually goes in your favour because the better the relationship between counsel, the better we can work together and be able to get you a favorable settlement.

7. Do not speak in the courtroom unless you are spoken to. You have your lawyer. They are your mouthpiece.

8. Do not speak to opposing counsel directly.

9. Do not speak to the opposing party directly.

10. If you have something to say to your lawyer during court, write it down and slide it over.

11. Follow your lawyer’s nonverbal cues. 12. If the judge speaks to you directly or asks a question, answer the question that has been asked and nothing more. If context is required, your lawyer will provide it. The more you speak, the more likely you are to say something that is not in your best interests. For example:

Judge: Mr. Smith, when was the last time you saw your daughter?

You: Your Honour, the last time I saw my daughter was 2 months ago.

That’s it. You need not say anything more.

13. Keep the facial expressions to a minimum. Do not roll your eyes, throw your hands up in the sky or anything like that. We get it; the other side is lying or does not provide enough context. However, you have us there for a reason. If we’re not saying anything, it is for strategic reasons. See you in court in a few days. You have got this!