If you are in a custody battle with your ex, you must do all that you ethically can to stack the deck in your favor. This means having respectful courtroom etiquette at all times.

For many individuals, this may be their first time in a courtroom in front of a judge. Understandably, they may be nervous and unsure of how to act.

The following tips can help alleviate anxiety and pave the way for the best possible outcome of your custody case.

Dress appropriately: For men, this means a dark-colored suit or pants with a long-sleeved shirt and tie. Women should also dress conservatively, in darker colors with their arms covered. Parents of both sexes should wear closed-toe shoes.

Be neatly groomed: Both males and females with long hair should pin or tie it back. Men should not wear earrings, and women should only wear a single pair of discreet studs. Cover any visible tattoos with either clothing or makeup.

Follow courtroom decorum: This means no emotional outbursts, rude or snide remarks, smirks, rolled eyes or glowers. Speak only when addressed by the court and refer to the judge as “Your Honor.”

Be prepared and on time: Judges have no patience for litigants who waste the court’s time. Leave home with all the documents you need and in plenty of time to allow for delays.

Show respect: Of course, you should show respect to the judge, but also to your attorney, your ex and their counsel and all court personnel.

Answer only what is asked: Keep your answers short and to the point. Never elaborate unless asked. If your attorney objects to a line a questioning, stop speaking and wait until the judge rules on whether to strike it or allow it to continue.

Your family law attorney can address any questions you may have about how to deal with a child custody hearing.