How to Dress in Court For Your Child Custody Case

Tips to Help You Win Child Custody

Judge and gavel in courtroom
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Parents who would like to win child custody should ensure they have dressed appropriately for all court appearances. The appropriate dress may vary based on time of year or location, but wherever you live (and even if the weather is hot), your goal should be to appear mature and responsible. Even though your character and history with your children should play a more important role than your appearance, appearance does count.

General Hints and Tips

In the United States, it's easy to "dress for success" by choosing outfits, haircuts, makeup, and accessories wisely. When dressing for a child custody case, success is winning custody; to do that, you will need to look as mature, serious-minded, and financially secure as possible. Even if you don't own appropriate clothing, it's worth your while to borrow or even find an appropriate outfit at a thrift shop. Here are some tips to consider when putting your outfit together:

  • Put yourself in the judge's shoes, and imagine his or her reaction to you. You can do this by watching real child custody cases in your local area. How did people dress? What reaction did the judge seem to have to, for example, a father showing up in a muscle shirt and flip-flops?
  • Think of yourself as an actor going on stage. You're creating a costume for a character that is serious, mature, and sincere. What would such a character wear?
  • Consider not only your clothes but also your hair, makeup, and behavior. If your hair is an unusual color, consider a wig or redying for the occasion. If you wear piercings other than earrings, consider removing jewelry and hiding the holes with makeup. If you have tattoos, consider wearing clothing that covers most of them. If you like to chew gum, don't. All of these small changes can radically change the impression you make.

    Appropriate Dress for Men at Child Custody Proceedings

    Dads who would like to win child custody should ensure they are appropriately dressed for a child custody hearing. Examples of appropriate dress for men are:

    • Dark suit
    • Collared shirt
    • Dress shoes
    • Tie

    Appropriate Dress for Women at Child Custody Proceedings

    Moms who would like to win child custody should ensure that they make the best appearance during all child custody hearings. Some examples of appropriate dress for women are:

    • Dark pants or a skirt suit
    • Dress shoes/pumps
    • Dark, non-patterned dress
    • Pants with a long-sleeve shirt

    Clothing Items to Avoid at a Child Custody Hearing

    Parents who would like to win child custody should avoid wearing certain clothing items to court. Examples of clothing to avoid are:

    • Short skirts (above the knee)
    • Sleeveless shirts
    • Sneakers
    • Open-toe shoes (including flip-flops)
    • Extremely tight or fitted clothing

    Seasonal Exceptions

    If a parent has a child custody proceeding during the summer, it may not make sense to wear an entire two or three-piece suit. A parent can modify dress to suit the season. For example, you might forego a suit jacket in extreme heat. Even in the heat, though, both men and women should avoid shorts, flip-flops, and sleeveless tops.