Family Law Courtroom Etiquette in Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto Counties

It’s always good to make a good impression when going into a Florida Family Law Court, and one of the best ways to make a good impression is to follow proper etiquette.  Fortunately, the Twelfth Judicial Circuit has published its Rules of Etiquette for Family Law cases in Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto Counties:

1. Be aware that the judges, general magistrates, hearing officers, or any other court personnel cannot give you legal advice. You may only obtain legal advice from an attorney. You may obtain general information from the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s website at

2. Arrive at least twenty (20) minutes before your hearing is scheduled to begin. There are unpredictable times when legal emergencies pressure the court to begin as early as possible. You should know that a judge may also dismiss your case if you are not present at the scheduled time.

3. All persons appearing before the court must dress in an appropriate manner. Shorts, hats, flip-flops, jeans, sneakers, tee shirts, and tank tops are not suitable for the courtroom.

4. Do not bring food or beverages into the courtroom. Never chew gum or use tobacco products in the courtroom.

5. Turn off your cell phone.

6. Do not bring children to the courthouse unless the judge or your attorney requests that you do so.

7. Stand when you are addressing the court and address the judge as “your honor.”

8. Be prepared for court. Familiarize yourself with the issues, read the pleadings and other documents, and be prepared to present your case to the court.

9. Bring with you any evidence and witnesses you wish the court to consider. The court cannot consider written statements from witnesses.

10. Be aware that you must state in your pleadings the relief you want. The court cannot grant relief that you do not request in your pleadings.

11. Bring several copies of any documents that you intend to offer into evidence. You must provide a copy to the opposing party and his/her attorney. Each copy should be labeled “exhibit” and indicate the case number, names of the parties, the date, and have a space for the judge’s signature.

12. Tell the truth. Any false statement made to the court under oath is perjury, which is a crime.

13. Be courteous. Do not interrupt the judge, any party, or any witness who is speaking. You will have the opportunity to present your case.

14. Speak directly to the judge or your attorney. Do not argue with the judge, the opposing party, his/her attorney, or a witness.

15. Be aware that any witnesses you bring with you to court may or may not be permitted in the courtroom with you until it is his/her turn to testify.

16. Do not call or write the judge a letter. The judge cannot talk to you or consider any written or oral evidence out of the presence of both parties.

17. Be respectful to all court personnel, including the judges, general magistrates, hearing officers, bailiffs, case managers, judicial assistants, clerks, and all other court staff.

Of course, hiring a family law attorney can give you the best chance of making a good impression in court.

If you have question regarding divorce in Sarasota, Manatee, or DeSoto Counties, schedule a consultation with a Florida family law attorney at (813) 443-0615 or by filling out our contact form.


About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Family Diplomacy is dedicated to helping clients restructure their families privately and respectfully. We practice exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, with a focus on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. We maintain this out-of-court practice because we strongly believe that family disputes should be resolved in a private conference room, not in a hostile and public courtroom environment. This unique perspective on family law stems back to Adam B. Cordover’s experience studying International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Adam had the rare opportunity to work closely with ambassadors and diplomats from war-torn regions around the world. He traveled around the globe, learning from diplomatic leaders as they applied dispute resolution techniques to tackle seemingly impossible conflicts. It dawned on him: If these techniques can work in the complex world of International Relations, why not Domestic Relations and Family Law? This realization lead Adam to create an exclusively out-of-court practice and to bring a more peacemaking approach to family law. In his previous role as a litigation attorney, Adam witnessed parties experience the negative emotional and financial effects that long, drawn out divorce battles can have on families. As a result, Adam has become a strong proponent of the Collaborative Process, where a structure is put in place so that life’s hardest moments do not have to be any more difficult than necessary. A thought leader in the international collaborative law community, Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida). Adam has been featured in or interviewed about collaborative practice by the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Florida Bar News, NBC, Fox 13, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine, and Spirit FM 90.5. Adam regularly speaks at professional and civic organizations locally and internationally regarding the collaborative process. Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) and Florida’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group with member attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties. Adam is also on the Executive Board and co-chair of the Research Committee of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida. Further, Adam is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You can learn more about us and our services at Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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One Response to Family Law Courtroom Etiquette in Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto Counties

  1. Long Okura says:

    Following proper etiquette is so important. A judge is less likely to patiently listen to you if he or she is already frustrated with you. And having an attorney present if very helpful, not only for your case strategy, but also to guide you and ensure that you are following court etiquette.

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