How to present yourself and testify well in court during your divorce case

When we feel apprehensive about something, especially something unpleasant, we tend to look for any excuse to keep us from having to do that certain thing.

If you are feeling apprehensive about filing for divorce it may be that you are convincing yourself not to because you do not have the requisite amount of confidence in your ability to testify in front of a judge.

Whether it’s because you’ve seen too many movies where slick talking lawyers confuse and befuddle opposing clients into admitting things that are not true, or because talking about your private matters in front of a room full of strangers can be intimidating I have heard a number of concerns from people in similar positions as you as to why they do not want to move forward with a divorce.

While I would never question or belittle a person’s fears, the fact is that it is extremely unlikely that your case will see the inside of a courtroom. The vast majority of divorce cases in Texas settle before a temporary orders hearing or trial is necessary. So it’s very possible that your worst fears about your divorce never even come close to fruition.

With that said, if your divorce does happen to go to a contested hearing or trial, you do not have to go into court without any knowledge of how to conduct yourself or answer questions. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will discuss courtroom testimony advice for people going through a divorce.

Preparation is key

Testifying in a contested divorce hearing is not something that you should do without first preparing thoroughly. This means knowing what the questions are going to be ahead of time from your attorney and working with your attorney to anticipate what questions you are likely to receive from opposing counsel.

In many cases your testimony revolves around specific events that occurred and in this regard dates matter. Working with your attorney to create a timeline of when and where something occurred in your case can be very helpful to you when it comes to recalling and testifying to that information on the witness stand.

Going over something over and over again, as if you were studying for a final exam, can be a great help especially if you are feeling nervous about giving testimony.

Listen to what you are being asked to answer

This may seem like a no-brainer but in the heat of a hearing or trial your mind may be in so many different places at once that the actual question flies right past you. Since you are going to be at least a little jittery on the witness stand you should pay especially close attention to the question being asked of you.

If the question does not make sense ask the attorney who asked the question to please ask it again or rephrase it. Lawyers ask bad questions all the time- nobody is perfect. The attorney will not take offense to being asked to rephrase the question.

One you take a moment to decide whether or not you understand the question, think about whether or not you know the answer to it. If the question asks something that you do not know the answer to you can say a simple “I don’t know,” or “I don’t remember”.

Nobody expects you to remember or recall every bit of information connected to your divorce. It is much better to be honest and say you don’t know rather than to assume an answer or guess at an answer.

Of course, if you do know the answer to a question that is asked you can state your response simply and succinctly. No need to use big words or to try and sound more formal than you would in normal conversation. Be civil and respectful in answering a question but there is no need to use the Queen’s English when testifying.

Succinct is the name of the game- do not provide detail when none is asked

One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen clients make while on the witness stand is to give too much detail in their responses to a question. This is an especially big mistake when it comes to answering questions from the opposing attorney.

Why do people do this? I think the reason is that because this is your divorce you feel that you need to get it all off your chest in one response. After having held back so much for so long it is almost therapeutic to open your mouth and let the words come right out.

I can tell you that you will have an opportunity to present the information that you desire if you are patient. Giving unnecessarily long answers may draw an objection from the opposing attorney and could also provide information that could be potentially detrimental.

If a question can be answered using a one word answer (especially when the question is coming from opposing counsel) I recommend to clients that they seek to do so. “Yes” and “No” are valid answers and unless the questioner asks for more than just that response you are not obligated to elaborate.

Listen to the question being asked, make sure you understand the question, and then respond if you know the answer. Nothing complicated about that.

Questions about testifying in court? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

We have additional pieces of advice to provide on how to testify in court during your family lawcase so please stay tuned tomorrow to read through part 2 of our series on this subject.

In the meantime if you have questions about anything you read in this blog please do not hesitate to contact our office. Our licensed family law attorneys are standing by and are ready to meet with you six days a week for a free of charge consultation to discuss your case and answer any questions that you may have.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case
  2. Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case, Part Two
  3. Getting Ready for a Hearing On Temporary Custody Orders
  4. Child Custody Geographic Restrictions in Texas
  5. Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas
  6. The Dirty Trick of Moving Out of State with the Kids
  7. Can a Parent remove My Child from the state of Texas or from the County or Country where I am living?
  8. Children's Passports and International Travel after Texas Divorce
  9. Child Custody Basics for Texas Parents Revisited
  10. Child Custody Basics in Texas

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding Divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Child Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our Divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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