What should I expect when I go to court?

Unless you are an attorney or a judge, being in a courtroom is scary.  Most people’s experience with court is what they see on television.  What you see on television is much different than what television dramas show it to be.  So, what is it like going to the courthouse for a court hearing?

  1. Leave purses, bags, backpacks, gum and water bottles at home.

Courthouses have various levels of security.  Some courthouses have metal detectors to make sure people entering the courtroom do not have any weapons.  Other courthouses do not allow people to bring in a purse, backpack or other sort of bag for the same reason.  It is also best to leave your cell phone in your car or at home as well.

People are not allowed to chew gum in a courtroom or to bring in water bottles or beverages.

  1. Court does not always start on time.

Courts often schedule several hearings at the same time so you have to wait for your case to be called.  I always encourage my clients to get to the courthouse early to allow for time to park and then to find their way to the correct building and floor so they are ready for court when the hearing is supposed to start.  Arriving at the courthouse a bit early helps reduce some of the anxiety that is natural when going to court.

  1. Hearings are open to the public.

With the exception of a few types of court cases, court hearings are open to the public.  You may have family members or friends attend a court hearing with you.  Anyone entering the courtroom is subject to security rules so anyone entering the courtroom should leave purses, backpacks and cell phones at home.

  1. Family court matters are decided by a judge, not a jury.

There will not be a jury in the courtroom deciding matters of divorce, division of debts and assets or parenting time with children.  Your judge makes all the decisions in a family court case.  This helps cases move along faster and more efficiently.

Jessica Sterle

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