If you’re scheduled to appear in a California family court, you’ll want to choose your attire carefully that day. This is especially true if you are trying to convince a judge or jury that your children would fare best under your sole care and decision-making authority. In a child custody case, impressions can influence the court’s decisions, so you’ll want your clothing to reflect positive characteristics.
As a parent requesting primary or sole child custody, what do you want the court to know about you? You’ll want to demonstrate that you understand the seriousness of the situation and that you are a confident, capable, responsible adult who is ready to take on the full responsibility of caring for your children. If you walk into court looking disheveled, it might send the wrong message.
Neutral colors and business-casual styles are best for child custody proceedings
Since a courtroom is in a formal setting, it is best to wear clothing that would be acceptable for an important business meeting or job interview. Rather than vibrant colors or patterns, consider wearing neutral tones, such as blue, gray, black or beige. Choose dress shoes with low heels, and avoid tight-fitting, as well as overly baggy, clothing. Your goal is to look clean and professional.
For men’s clothing, it is best to wear a tucked-in shirt (long sleeves, collared and buttoned) with a belt and dress pants. Women’s dresses or skirts should be knee length or longer. Plunging necklines and shirts with graphics or lettering on them are not appropriate for the courtroom.
Certain clothing may compel a judge to ban you from the courtroom
The last thing you want to happen during a child custody case is to wear clothing that prompts a judge to excuse you from the courtroom. Tank tops, shorts, ball caps or shirts with offensive messages all place you at risk for the judge asking you to exit the room, which, of course, would not help you achieve a favorable ruling in your case.
Always keep children’s best interests in mind
When a California family court judge makes child custody decisions, the children’s best interests are a central focus of the proceedings. As a parent, you want what’s best for your kids. If you believe that gaining sole custody is best, you’ll want to do everything in your power to convince the judge, which includes but is not limited to dressing in a manner that creates a positive impression.
If you’re unsure about how to dress for a child custody case or have questions about state laws, it’s best to reach out for additional guidance, rather than make assumptions that may be counterproductive to accomplish your goals.