As you can tell from the title of this blog post, we will be continuing our discussion on how to get ready for your day in court. One significant point that I communicated in yesterday’s blog post was that it is unlikely that you will even have to go to court during your divorce case. Such is the high rate of settlements in divorce casesin Texas.
With that said, it is better to be safe than sorry, and the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, wanted to share as much information with you as we could on this subject.
What to wear (and more importantly, what not to wear)
When I was growing up, my mom would often tell my sister and me, “It’s not a fashion show” or “You’re not going to the prom,” whenever we would be taking too long to get ready to go someplace. Those words still ring out in my head whenever I overthink what to wear to an event or just out and about in town with my family.
With that said, your clothes can affect how you are perceived and judged. It’s not as if what you wear can change a judge’s mind on a particular subject but perception matters, whether we like it or not.
Avoid wearing clothes that show too much skin. This will not only cause your look to be more appropriate for a courtroom, but it will keep your shoulders warm in an excellent courtroom.
Think about what you would wear to church (non-Christmas/Easter church) or work. That is pretty much what I tell clients to wear to court if I’m asked. I fully understand that it is somewhat awkward to say to another adult what to wear someplace.
However, I will speak if I think it will be an issue. I’d rather be the rude lawyer who intruded upon your decision-making than the lawyer whose client is embarrassed because they are underdressed for the courtroom.
Answer questions when you are ready to do so
Family law attorneys are in court all the time. Of all the areas of civil law, I believe family law attorneys make courtroom appearances more than any of them. As a result, we have developed a certain rhythm to how we ask questions at a hearing.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that we know what we will ask you next. In this way, questioning a witness can be a little like a play with rehearsed and scripted lines.
On the other hand, you as the witness do not know exactly what is coming next as far as a question is concerned. On top of this, you will be nervous or, at the very least, a little uncomfortable while testifying. You won’t be in a familiar place, and you’ll be discussing topics that you probably won’t be thrilled to be discussing in front of a bunch of strangers.
Answer the questions you ask when you feel comfortable giving a response and on your own “schedule.” Don’t feel like you need to answer a question immediately. As we discussed yesterday, this can be a huge negative to avoid.
If you know that you tend to blurt out an answer, do your best to guard against this habit. The judge, the lawyers, and your spouse are not going anyway. The answer clearly and when you feel ready to do so. If you answer the question when you are prepared to do so, it’s likely that you will make more sense and generally give a better answer.
It is likely that while you are testifying, either your attorney or your spouse’s attorney will object or two. Objections can be offered against the form of a question being asked or against the answer provided by a witness. When you hear a lawyer call for a protest, your job is not to say anything further until the judge instructs you that it is ok to respond.
The lawyers will have an opportunity to state an objection and have the other lawyer respond to that objection as well. It is essential always to be aware of what is happening to not speak out of turn.
Above all else, be truthful when answering questions
If I have a client who is incredibly nervous about their day in court, I will tell them that ultimately their job is to come to court and be honest while testifying. The lawyers have to think up the questions, and the judge has to make rulings. Your only job as a witness is to present yourself as a good witness and testify honestly.
Nobody- not your attorney, not the other attorney, and not the judge- expects you to do anything special on the witness stand. Sometimes people get flustered in a hearing or trial and forget the answer to a question.
Other times you can think that a specific answer will “sound” better and be more beneficial to your case. I can tell you that nothing sounds better to a judge than the truth. You will not benefit from making an answer up or fudging the truth even a little.
Remember, you are testifying under an oath that you will be truthful. Violating that oath means not only that you can hurt your case but that you are in violation of the most basic rules of the courtroom.
Questions on conducting yourself in court? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
Thank you for the opportunity to share with you some of our thoughts on the subject of testifying in a hearing or trial during your family law case. If you have any other questions for us, please contact us today. A free-of-charge consultation is available to you six days a week where one of our licensed family law attorneys can answer your questions.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- How to present yourself and testify well in court during your divorce case
- Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case
- Tips on giving in-court testimony in your Divorce or child custody case, Part Two
- Getting Ready for a Hearing On Temporary Custody Orders
- Child Custody Geographic Restrictions in Texas
- Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas
- The Dirty Trick of Moving Out of State with the Kids
- Can a Parent remove My Child from the state of Texas or from the County or Country where I am living?
- Children’s Passports and International Travel after Texas Divorce
- Child Custody Basics for Texas Parents Revisited
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- An Overview of the Texas Foster Care System