Despite a seemingly long list of what not to do, a Dallas family courtroom is not supposed to be a place designed just to trip you up. Keeping some things in mind will help you make a good impression and prevent disruption or confusion.
If the judge or an attorney is speaking to you in a family law proceeding, and you don’t understand or perhaps didn’t hear him or her, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask them to repeat or clarify what they said. You can also ask to use the restroom or take a break. You can request a drink of water or a tissue. You should always be respectful when asking for these things, addressing the judge as “Your Honor.”
Another thing you can do in family court is bring others along for support. Assuming they are not also providing testimony for you, they can stay in the courtroom for the entire hearing. If you do bring witnesses, they’ll have to wait outside of the courtroom until called, but they can bring something along to read while they wait (books and magazines are otherwise not allowed inside the courtroom).
An exception to the above, however, is children. Children can’t enter the courtroom itself unless the judge requests to speak with them. Your attorney can explain the special processes regarding children in court in detail for you. This is the only time you should bring your children with you to family court, even if the case involves child custody, adoption, or child support for them.
These general rules can provide a good foundation for Dallas residents preparing to appear in family court. We’ll follow up with a closer look at some additional considerations in specific types of cases.