If you have a contested hearing and are scheduled to go before a Superior Court Judge you need to prepare yourself for your testimony. What generally happens in Fayette and Coweta County is that your judge has trial dates for civil cases such as divorces each month. You may be one of many cases scheduled for that day. The Judge announces the calendar and asks the attorneys how long they expect their matter to be. Many judges then hear the quicker matters first. You must be prepared to be in Court all day as you do not know when you will be reached.
Please understand that the Judge and the lawyers understand that you are terrified of having to talk about very personal topics in front of a group of people. Lawyers talk in Court all the time; this hopefully will be your first and last time. These tips will help you nail your testimony.
1.) Listen. I know you want to unburden yourself of all the awful things going on in your marriage, but your attorney can direct you to present coherent testimony to obtain your goals. If your attorney asks what time your husband dropped off the kids, don’t talk about how irresponsible he is and how he beat the dog. Answer the question asked as clearly as possible.
2.) Don’t argue. Trial attorneys will try to get under your skin to show the judge that you are unhinged. Again, answer the question as clearly as possible, and if you need to explain, go ahead. In other words, if the other attorney asks if it is true that you would not allow visitation last weekend, first say whether it is true or not. You then can explain that you did not allow visitation because your ex showed up drunk. Your attorney will get up and object if the other attorney is being a jerk and the Court will direct him/her to cut it out. I often will not object to an attorney being a jerk to my client if the client is doing well and the testimony is going our way.
3.) Address the Court. Look at the judge when you respond. Again, most communication is non-verbal; connecting with the judge by looking in his/her eyes when responding presents testimony that is real and creates empathy for your situation.
4.) Stop it with the “I don’t recall” defense. If you avoid uncomfortable questions by pretending not to remember, your testimony will be worthless It is OK to say “to the best of my recollection” if you don’t remember all specifics but you will not win by pretending to be stupid.
If you need help with your divorce or family law case, contact me today.