Courtroom Courtesy: How To Behave In Court

Whether you’re facing a minor traffic ticket, a DWI, or your divorce case, you want to behave properly in court. From dealing with your attorney, to the other lawyers, to most importantly– the judge. In these cases, you want to be polite and avoid doing anything that could further harm your case. So here’s some basic rules of courtroom courtesy.

Courtroom Courtesy

Don’t Talk To The Other Party’s Attorney

One part of courtroom courtesy that will help your case, is to avoid talking to the other party’s attorney. For the most part, this will be the duty of your own lawyer. Your lawyer can serve as a middle man or go between. In which case, if you have anything to discuss with the other party, your attorney can speak with them. One exception may be if you’ve already talked to your attorney and they advised you to speak with them personally. But for the most part, it’s a good rule just to allow your lawyer to be the middle man.

Never Interrupt the Judge 

Possibly the most important form of courtroom courtesy is to make sure you never interrupt the judge. At times, you may want the opportunity to speak, to defend your case, or plead your cause. But do not, under any circumstances, interrupt the judge. Instead, wait your turn as he or she will give you the opportunity to speak. And when you do, make sure you are polite.

Don’t Interrupt the Opposing Party

Likewise, you don’t want to interrupt the opposing party either. While they may say things you don’t agree with or aren’t true, you’ll be itching to speak out and defend yourself. However, interrupting to do so is not the right move so you need to fight that urge in court.

Come Prepared 

As a good policy for courtroom courtesy, you want come as prepared as possible. That means, having the correct documents, with plenty of copies on hand. Actually, the more prepared you come, the better your case may look. But this can all be confusing so your attorney should assist in making sure you’re ready for your case.

In short, you want to remain polite and respectful to make sure you are practicing courtroom courtesy. From the way you talk to how you dress, you want to make a good impression. That begins with respecting your judge, the courtroom, and the legal process as a whole.

Setting A Healthy Co-Parenting Schedule

As you navigate co-parenting and compromise, it is important that everyone gets their fair share of personal time, as well as time with their children. Aside from making sure the child gets to their activities, to school, and so on— there are other important aspects to make sure you satisfy. Creating a healthy co-parenting schedule, and doing it together, is a fantastic means of getting your feet wet with this new arrangement.

Setting a Healthy Co-Parenting Schedule

You can choose to do this before or after you set a custody agreement, depending on what your priority is. If it’s that of having a court-ordered schedule set before you take the time to organize, that’s fine. Or, you choose to make your schedule before taking it to court. This could also could potentially be very mutually beneficial. If you handle this schedule before deciding how custody should go, each parent might feel a bit better about their end of the deal. Shoot, you might not even end up needing to go before a judge straight away. But how should you go about deciding a schedule? Well, it all starts with cooperation and communication.

Make a list of engagements

From your schedule, the other parents schedule, and the kids. Anything that you know will happen on a consistent basis, plan for it. Divide up responsibilities in a way that allows both parents their personal time, and accommodates the child. The key here is respect. Give the other parent the same respect you are hoping for in honoring everyone’s needs. List it all out, divide it all up, decide where to compromise, and put it in writing.

The agreement must be mutually beneficial

If your agreement is not mutually beneficial, it will create trouble. Part of creating a healthy co-parenting schedule is hearing out the other parent and respecting what they need from this agreement as well. Honor their personal time, their engagements, and their hobbies— quite obviously, they should do the same for you. Dad has bowling league Tuesday nights and works late on Thursdays? See what you can do to accommodate that. Mom has book club Saturday morning and teaches a night class on Monday? Give her the same courtesy. If you can compromise with each other and respect what you each need as well as, doing this agreement together will be much easier and more amicable.

Decide Holidays. Now.

Holidays are always the tough part to handle. Everyone wants them, typically co-parents don’t want to do them together, and the first year is always the hardest. But, if you decide them ahead of time when you’re making this agreement, and when emotion is separated— it will be much easier to honor when the time comes. A good rule of them is if one parent gets Christmas Eve and Christmas, give the other parent Thanksgiving and alternate from there. Whatever works for your family, but deciding ahead of time and honoring it will make all the difference.

Respect the agreement you’ve made

When you finally reach a consensus and your agreement is complete and comprehensive, sign it. Print it, date it, and sign it together. Realize that compromises might have to be made. Dad might have to pick up on Mom’s day from time to time, and vice versa. Be flexible when need be, but have a healthy co-parenting schedule to fall back on when you need it. In the end, you’ll save a headache or ten by deciding what happens and when ahead of time.

Best Interest of the Child in South Carolina

The prevailing standard in SC family courts is the best interest of the child. What this means is that a court will usually make the decision that is in the child’s best interest. Thus, it is imperative that lawyers argue towards this standard. When the termination of parental rights (TPR) is at issue, this standard is the crux of the case. SC DSS v. Cameron N.F.L., Billy J.S., and “John Doe” is a TPR case that focuses on this standard.

What Happened in the Case

DSS filed an intervention action against Mother because of the condition of her home and alleged drug abuse. DSS then removed the child from Mother. The family court then held a TPR hearing. Mother renovated her home and kept it clean. DSS found it suitable for an infant Mother recently gave birth to. DSS also found no evidence of drug abuse. While in foster care, the child lived in at least five homes and suffered developmental regression. The child’s therapist stated that the child had a strong bond with his mother. The child’s first guardian ad litem found that the child was not yet ready for adoption. However, the second GAL found that TPR was in the best interest of the child, despite never seeing the child and Mother interact. The family court ordered TPR. It found it to be in the child’s best interest.

On appeal, the court of appeals reversed the family court. It found that TPR was not in the child’s best interest. The court found that a valuable bond existed between the child and Mother. Further, the court found that the child was not a viable candidate for adoption. Also, the court found it significant that DSS had not identified a pre-adoptive home for the child. Thus, those three factors indicated that TPR was not in the child’s best interest.

TPR and the Child’s Best Interest

If facing a TPR hearing, make sure you have evidence of the child’s interest. A lawyer will know what evidence to gather and how best to present it! So contact us today.