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In Court Testimony: How what you say can make a difference in how the judge views your case

The days before a temporary orders hearing or trial can be extremely tense. For one thing, likely, you've never been inside of a courtroom before, and your unfamiliarity will likely cause you to feel apprehensive. Secondly, this is a family law case we're talking about here. Whether it is a divorce or a child custody case, your children, finances, and possibly both are at stake. That alone is enough to put a few butterflies in your stomach.

Whether or not you feel good about going to court, the fact remains is that if you are unlikely to settle your case either for temporary or final orders, the result will be that you and the opposing party will have to attend a trial to have your case decided by a judge.

One of the best pieces of advice that I was told as a young attorney was always to make sure you have prepared your client to the best of your ability before any courtroom appearance. Sometimes lawyers get so caught up in their responsibilities associated with representing you, the client, that we can forget that you are more apprehensive than anyone else.

Taking a step back and helping you is what an attorney does. It's the oath that we swore to when we were licensed as attorneys- to put your interests ahead of our own.

With that said, I would like to share some advice on testifying in court and how it can be impactful- not only on the case itself but also on how your judge will view you. Your credibility as a witness is just as important as the content of what you say while under oath. With that fact in mind, we begin our discussion with some basics on courtroom testimony.

Above all else, always tell the truth.

Always, always, always tell the truth when you are responding to a question in court. I could stop the blog right here, and you would have learned the most important lesson of all when it comes to in-court testimony. From my experience, clients believe that if they do not "perform" well while on the witness stand, their case will indeed be lost, and their lives will never recover. I'm here to tell you that is not the case.

For one, your testimony in court is only a part of the evidence that the judge will have to consider when rendering a decision. The opposing party, any other witnesses, and any documentary evidence entered into the record will also be critically important. Keeping this in mind, there is no need for you to feel like you need to provide confident answers so that your case may benefit.

Judges listen to people talk all day long and are excellent judges of whether the words you speak are truthful. Even if an answer you are about to provide will hurt your case, it does not pay to be untruthful. If the judge sees that you are providing solutions even under challenging circumstances, they are likely to take your responses and your case as a whole seriously.

Stretching the truth is something that you should stay away from as well. Just because an answer sounds good coming off your lips doesn't mean that you should give that response.

Understand the question fully before giving an answer

Before a hearing, I will always take my client aside and talk to them about testifying. After I go over the importance of telling the truth, I will tell the client to make 100% sure that you understand the question being asked of you before opening your mouth to speak.

Take a moment to let the question sink in and consider whether or not you understand the question being asked. If you do, think whether or not you know the answer to that question; if you do, then provide as concise and clear a response as you can muster.

If you do not understand a question, whether your attorney or the opposing attorney asks it, you should ask them to rephrase the question. Lawyers are human beings and are not perfect (ask the spouse of any attorney about that last part).

We ask wrong questions all the time. Ones that sound good in our heads but come off our lips making little to no sense. If you are on the witness stand, a lawyer's question doesn't make you feel asked to rephrase the question. We will take no offense to be asked to do so.

The last thing you want to do is answer a question you misunderstood where you provide information that can be potentially harmful to your case. Some lawyers will ask questions in ways that could be interpreted multiple ways to see if you answer them.

Rather than taking a moment to make sure you understand the question, you run the risk of giving a response that was not only unnecessary but damaging to your case. It is always better to collect yourself before testifying and ask for the question to be asked again if you do not understand it.

Part Two of our series on Courtroom Testimony is to be posted tomorrow

While you may never have to testify in front of a judge in your family law case, knowing how to do so is not only important in terms of strengthening your case but also in providing you with peace of mind leading up to your court date. Please stop by our blog tomorrow morning to read part two of our series on in-court testimony.

If you have any questions about what you read in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. One of our licensed family law attorneys would be honored to speak with you regarding your case in a free-of-charge consultation.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

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

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding Divorce, it's essential 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 the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, 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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