For family court, you want to look responsible and mature.

How you dress or look has no bearing on your ability to parent. However, you are trying to prove to the court that you are a responsible parent and the truth of the matter is that your appearance is the first impression that the judge will receive of you.

The best course of action is to dress like you are going to work in a professional business environment or to church.

But, what exactly does that mean?

What Should Women Wear to Family Court?

Aim for professional business attire. You should not look too casual (like you're going grocery shopping or to work out) or too dressy (like you're going to a wedding or headed out on Saturday night).

It is best to stick to neutral colors like black, gray, or navy. Avoid showing too much skin. Long sleeves and covered cleavage is best. Shoes should be conservative dress shoes or pumps.

Women should also avoid bright colors and loud patterns. You should avoid overdoing your hair, accessories like piercings or multiple rings, and heavy makeup. Less is more.

Your hair and face should appear clean and freshly washed but not wet. Wear antiperspirant.

What Should Men Wear to Family Court?

The best court attire for men is a business suit and tie. If you do not own a suit, you should wear a long-sleeve dress shirt and a tie with or without a sportcoat and long dress slacks with dress shoes. Don't forget to wear an undershirt and a belt.

Neutral colors such as black, grey, and navy are best for your suit or slacks. Stick to white or light blue for your dress shirt.

Your hair and face should appear clean and freshly washed, but not wet. Facial hair should be clean-shaven or neatly trimmed. Wear antiperspirant.

What Not to Wear to Custody Court

What items should you avoid wearing to court?

  • Shorts or cut-offs
  • T-shirts
  • Sleeveless shirts, spaghetti straps, tank tops, or muscle shirts
  • Sundress or strapless dress
  • Athletic attire, leggings, or exercise outfits
  • Clothing that reveals your undergarments
  • Clothing that appears too dressy or sexy
  • Clothing that is too form-fitting or too baggy
  • Clothing that is too short. Dresses or skirts should be to your knee. Otherwise, wear pants.
  • Crop tops or clothing that reveals your midriff
  • Hats
  • Jeans (unless they are the only long pants you own)
  • Sneakers or tennis shoes
  • Sandals or flip flops
  • Open-toed shoes
  • Stilleto heels
  • Sunglasses
  • Untrimmed fingernails
  • Bright or chipped nail polish
  • Piercings. Remove any other than a single pair of conservative earrings
  • Jewelry that makes noise
  • Hairnets, rollers, or combs

While "don't judge a book by its cover" is great advice to give, it's unfortunately not the reality when headed to court for a child custody hearing. First impressions are made within seven seconds and how you look in court can affect the judge's opinion. You are trying to prove that you are a fit parent and a responsible adult. You need to look the part.

Keep in mind the above tips to look respectful and follow the general dress code of the court for your family law hearing. Your child custody lawyer can guide you on any preferences of your local court.

Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Nationally recognized attorney dedicated to fighting life's legal battles with compassion and care
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