Many people want to know what to expect in divorce court. It can be stressful and life altering event; that is why it is so important to have an experienced attorney at your side. If you have an attorney, the attorney will do most of the talking on your behalf. Whether you are in front of a commissioner or judge, it is often best to only speak when a question is asked directly of you. Because Wisconsin is a no fault divorce state, it is important to remember while you are in court that placing blame regarding the breakdown of your marriage is not productive and most judges will not want to hear about that. Unless the accusation directly affects your spouse's ability to effectively parent your children, or puts your child in danger, it is generally not best to discuss it in the court room.
It is important not to get emotional in the courtroom. While this is a situation that can cause much anxiety for you, it is important to remain calm. It is easier to communicate when you are calm, and you will better understand the judge or commissioner if they give you instructions or assign future court dates on your case. This is also important when there are children involved because you want it to be clear to the court that you are an emotionally and mentally stable individual. You want to show the court that you are capable of providing a healthy and emotionally stable atmosphere for your children to thrive.
When you are planning to come to court, you can show respect for these dignified proceedings by making sure your dress and grooming are appropriate for the occasion. First impressions are important, and your appearance will have an impact on the judge's impression of you, especially if you are looking to gain custody of your children. This is important because it will give an impression of what type of caregiver you will be. You will want to dress professionally, as if going on a job interview. Men don't necessarily need to wear a tuxedo, or even a suit and tie, but dress casual would be appropriate, such as pressed khaki pants and a button down shirt, tucked in. The same applies to females; you don't have to wear a dress. Nice pants and a shirt would be appropriate. Pants should not be too tight or too loose, and shirts should never be tight or low cut. Most Judges are fairly conservative, so you would want to consider covering tattoos and taking out or covering any facial piercings you may have. Your hair should be clean and neat, and facial hair well kempt.
Lastly, it is important to never show disrespect to a judge or commissioner that you are in front of. Even if you are not pleased with what they may tell you, you will likely be in front of them again before your case is over, so you would want to treat them with the respect their position is due. Always address the judge or commissioner as "Your honor". Do not argue with or interrupt the judge or court commissioner. If you require clarification of an order, it is best to ask your attorney to clarify when the time is right, which is not while the judge is talking. When in doubt about what you can expect when going in to court, always consult your attorney prior to the hearing so that you know exactly what to expect.