Guide for Appearing Via Video/Telephonic For Hearings Helping Families Through Legal Conflict and Into a Positive Future


Video Appearances. For video appearances, parties need to have internet, web camera, and microphone capabilities. If you do not, please discuss this with your attorney so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Video appearances will be used for almost any contested matter unless there is a specific agreement for telephonic appearances. Witnesses may be via telephone or video. It is the attorney’s responsibility to ensure that witnesses have the appropriate information for appearance and testimony. Non-parties will be held in waiting rooms or virtual lobbies until it is time for their testimony. When a witness is not testifying, they will not be able to see or hear the proceedings. No party nor any witness shall discuss their testimony in preparation of trial or during trial.

Dress For Court. Even for web-based hearings, it is important to wear appropriate attire. Unless we’ve discussed dressing differently, men should usually wear slacks with a polo or buttoned shirt, and women slacks or a skirt with professional blouse/sweater. Don’t be tempted to overdress – wearing a suit or military dress uniform may seem like you’re showing respect to the Court, but it could also convey an image which is needlessly successful (could hurt in a maintenance case) or sterile/professional (bad for parenting). And don’t underdress – no jeans, T-shirts, tennis shoes, sandals, or revealing clothing as it will likely send a message of sloppiness and disrespect. Even when appearing via video, the court will go into recess and there may be other breaks where you may want to move around, make sure to remember that the other participants will see what you are wearing on the bottom, so dressing appropriately from head to toe is recommended. Hats are not permitted in the courtroom and also should not be worn during telephone testimony.

Conduct During Court. During Court proceedings, be polite to everyone. Do not speak unless being questioned, and please do not whisper or make audible reactions. Never speak over anyone, especially the Judge. Unless you are testifying you should place your microphone on mute until you need to speak and be heard. Always address the court as “Your Honor” and be polite to the other side. It is okay to write notes to us or email if you need something, or a private chat if that feature is available, when you are not testifying. Answer all questions in a straightforward manner, with no quibbling, unless the attorney has objected to the question. Be mindful of your non-verbal conduct as well; most of the time the video focus is on the speaker, and rather than looking at you from ten or more feet, the Judge is looking straight at a video close up, watching your reaction for clues while the other party and witnesses are testifying. Facial expressions are more predominant in video conferencing so please control your expressions.

Environment. In the courthouse, there is generally a prohibition of drink/food, children, and other distractions. Wherever you decide to participate in the hearing, it should be free from distractions, including children and pets. You should not be eating during your hearing, nor chewing gum. It is appropriate to have water. Although the court is sympathetic to stay at home orders, they do not want children interrupting proceedings. If you have your children at home, there is an expectation that they will not be present during the proceedings and if they are, it is possible that your hearing will be suspended and continued to a subsequent day. If you have childcare issues or other concerns those should be discussed and raised with the attorney in which you are involved so that necessary arrangements can be made.

Exhibits. Exhibits will be provided to both parties, the court, and any witness prior to the trial date. During the trial, it is your responsibility to ensure that you can open and view documents that will be referred to in live time. Once you receive the link or exhibit download, you should open it and create a format which is user friendly for you so that you are prepared for trial. If there are any issues, please immediately contact your attorney and respective paralegal before the day of trial so the issue can be remedied. You should practice locating different exhibits and review them prior to trial so that you are familiar with them. Most people find it easiest to view exhibits on a device other than the one which you are using to testify. If you cannot locate an exhibit during trial, there is a risk that it will be unable to be admitted.


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