Five Things To Do Before Your First Court Appearance

For many people, the thought of going to court is confusing and rather scary. Rules, formalities, and the fear of not getting the outcome you hoped for are all elements that make the time leading up to your experience in court hard to cope with. Once your first court appearance is over, you will better know what to expect, but until that time, the discomfort of the unknown can be stressful. While all of this may be weighing on your mind, there are some things you can do to make your first court appearance a little less scary. Here are five things to do before your first court appearance.

  1. Get yourself organized. You will want to be as prepared as necessary for your first court appearance, so getting everything in order ahead of time will help to ensure that you do not miss anything. Make sure that all of your paperwork and documentation is in order prior to your court date. If you are represented by counsel, speak to your attorney prior to your court date. Make sure they have everything that they may need from you ahead of time. 
  2. Visit the courthouse once before your first court appearance. Know the route you need to take to get there without getting lost. Try to make your visit around the same time of day that your appearance is scheduled for, as to know how bad traffic may be getting there. If possible, walk into the courtroom and observe how people act and dress. This will help to prepare you for what to expect in that environment during your first court appearance. 
  3. Plan your outfit. Your appearance during your first court date will matter, even if you don't believe it. Having made a visit to the courthouse once before, you may already have an idea of what other people are wearing, and this can help you decide what to wear. Dress as if you are going to a job interview or a formal business meeting. Neutral tones and traditional hemlines are what to strive for. Details other than clothes matter as well such as hairstyle, accessories, shoes, and make-up. A professional yet conservative look will be what to strive for. While this all may be true, don't go so far as to make yourself uncomfortable. Wear clothes that fit you well and won't cause you to fidget or appear physically uncomfortable in the courtroom.
  4. Plan your day according to your court appearance. You will not want to have anything interrupting your first court appearance, so it is important to schedule your day accordingly. Plan to arrive at the courthouse early as to ensure that you will not be late. Don't schedule anything right before or right after your appearance, as you may not know how long the overall process will take or how you will be feeling right after. If you are scheduled to work on the date of your court appearance, speak to your employer about requesting the day off well in advance. This will help to ensure that you will not have any issues taking the time that you need to fully focus on your first court appearance. 
  5. Try and remain calm. You may be feeling nervous about your first court appearance, but it is important to stay level headed and calm as to not create added stress for yourself. Educate yourself on courtroom etiquette, and talk to your attorney about if there are specific things you may want to know about this court in particular. When you do eventually make it into the courtroom, it will again be important to appear collected. Do not to interrupt the judge or get into a heated argument with the opposing party or anyone else in the courtroom. If you are unhappy with the outcome of your first court appearance, speak to you attorney about how to move forward from here, but all in all, keep yourself calm in the courtroom.

First-time court appearances can be stressful, but being prepared ahead of time can make things much easier. Part of preparing yourself means preparing documentation to support your case. When it is hard to document interactions with a co-parent or within a family, the OurFamilyWizard® website can help. When using OFW® for communication, you can easily retrieve organized reports of messages, expenses, payments, family vital details, and more. Help yourself keep your important family information organized by signing up today.