How to Dress for Divorce Court

dress for divorce court
Erin Levine

By Erin Levine | Oct 11th, 2022

If you’re reading this post, you are smart and already a step ahead of most going through the divorce process. Really! You know that appropriate attire is necessary for court. But appropriate can mean different things to different people, so I wanted to take a moment to lay out a few observations and recommendations, based on more than 13 years of experience in the courtroom. Because everyone is influenced by first impressions – even judges.

First, a tip: try to spend a couple of hours in your judge’s courtroom before your hearing to get an idea for who s/he is and how they run their courtroom, and adapt your style accordingly. If s/he’s super formal, a full suit may be more appropriate, and closed-toe shoes. If the judge seems more down to earth, a suit might feel over the top (like you’re trying too hard) – so perhaps business professional or a “church outfit” might be more appropriate.

Also, think about the actual issue before the court and how your clothing might influence the outcome and/or trigger your spouse and/or his/her attorney. (I know, it sounds crazy, but judges are people, too, and have their own biases to overcome). So, don’t come to court requesting spousal support with a brand new designer handbag at your side (even if you purchased it for 75% off retail).

>em>Same thing goes for your witness or support person(s) who go with you to court. They should dress well, too! This not only helps maintain decorum but shows that you (and your peeps) respect our nation’s laws and Courts.

Everyone is influenced by first impressions – even judges.

As a general rule, you should think of the courtroom as a formal environment. Dress as you would when going for an important job interview or to church. Did you know that you can (actually) be barred from the courtroom if you violate the Court’s dress code?

Most of the below should go without saying, but sometimes people need a little reminder.

Remember, first impressions matter.

When we dress to impress, we often feel better and more confident. If you live a casual life and dressing up feels out of character, think about purchasing something new that you feel great in, and that you can see yourself wearing again on a special occasion, like a job interview. Most importantly, you want to feel like yourself and be as comfortable as possible – so your true self (and the facts related to your case) will shine through.

Erin Levine

Erin Levine

Erin Levine is a Certified Family Law Specialist and the owner and managing attorney of Levine Family Law Group, based in Oakland, CA. She is the founder and CEO of Hello Divorce.


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