Most family law cases do not require an extensive amount of testimony. However, sometimes the issues in a family law case, such as a divorce, just cannot be resolved, despite the efforts of the lawyers and the parties. When that happens, the parties go to court, offer evidence, both in the form of testimony and exhibits, and a judge decides the issues. This can include some or all of the following:
- Division of assets
- Division of debts
- Child custody
- Child support
It would be a mistake to presume that since you know all the important facts, you will testify brilliantly. Testimony is unlike anything most people have ever done, and there are some tips that can ensure you will testify better than if you don’t follow these simple rules.
Respect the Court Reporter
The court reporter’s job is to take down every word every person is saying in court. This in and of itself is a difficult task. However, doing so when two people are talking at once is nearly impossible. As a witness, you will be asked questions which you are expected to answer. Take care to wait until the attorney is done asking the question before answering. Do not jump in when the attorney is half way done asking a question, presuming you know where the attorney is going. Talking over the attorney will just confuse the issue, make the court reporter’s job more challenging, and possibly annoy the judge. Judges often rely on the transcript when making decisions. Make sure your transcript clearly reflects your testimony by waiting until it is your turn to talk.
Respect the Questioning Process
You and your attorney may have discussed their planned questions for you. However, this does not give you a license to provide a narrative of the issues. Instead, the process calls for the lawyer to ask a question, the witness to answer, and the lawyer to ask more questions, which you answer in turn. In addition to not speaking over the attorney, guessing where the attorney is going is not a good idea because it does not respect the questioning process. There are rules in court. For example, one cannot testify to a document before it has been admitted into evidence. If your attorney asks if you recognize a document, your answer should be a simple yes or no. Your lawyer will get to more substantive questions later, but first, they must establish foundation. Listen and respond only to the question asked.
You should know what issues have not been resolved. When you are expected to testify, you should come prepared to answer questions on the relevant issues. While it is important not to guess at an answer, failing to familiarize yourself with the issues at hand, or a failure to refresh your recollection of the facts and figures at issue will make what could be an easy testimony that much harder. You do not want to appear difficult or as one attempting to hide the ball. Make certain you know the topics you will be asked to testify to, and brush up on that information as your attorney asks.
Are You Considering Divorce?
If you are considering divorce, contact the Miami attorneys at The Carolan Family Law Firm, P.A. Our family law attorneys can help you in your divorce proceedings. Whether you are looking for a collaborative divorce, or you anticipate litigation, our attorneys are ready and able to help. Contact us today at 305-358-2330 to discuss your case. We look forward to talking with you.
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