Three Tips For Testifying In Court
The majority of family law cases do not include an extensive amount of witness testimony. Most of the time, the lawyers for each side negotiate child custody, alimony, and other matters, and the matter is settled out of court. Unfortunately, this is not possible all the time. Sometimes, disputes cannot be resolved and a trial is necessary, at which you may have to testify.
Many people think that because they are familiar with the facts of the case, they will provide clear, helpful testimony. Unfortunately, testifying is something most people have never done before, and it is easy to make mistakes. If you will have to testify in court during your family law case, below are some tips that will help.
Consider the Court Reporter
When you testify in court, you are doing so under oath, and everything you say is recorded by the court reporter. Being a court reporter is a difficult job, and it is only made more challenging by witnesses that speak too quickly, or that try to talk over other people.
As a witness, your lawyer and the lawyer for the other side will ask you questions. Always wait until the whole question has been asked before you provide an answer. If you answer before that time, you will confuse the issue, make the job more difficult for the court reporter, and potentially annoy the judge. None of these outcomes will work in your favor.
Respect the Process
The process of questioning a witness is a legal one, and it is important to respect that process. You do know the facts of the case, but that does not mean you have to provide them all within your first sentence. During the trial, your lawyer or the attorney for the other side will ask you a question that you will answer, and then they will ask you another one.
Only answer the question that is currently being asked of you, and do not expand on it. While you may think this is helpful, you may actually be breaking procedural rules. For example, you cannot testify about a document that has not yet been admitted into evidence. If a lawyer asks you if you recognize a certain document, simply say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without going into further detail.
Your family lawyer will prepare you before you take the stand, and this is an important step. Knowing the facts of your case should not lead to you directing the narrative in court, but you should also be familiar with the basic facts of your case. If you are not, you may appear difficult or worse, as though you are hiding something.
If you have any questions about your case prior to the trial, make sure you ask your lawyer and get the answers you need. Also make sure you and your lawyer review the topics that will be covered.
Our Family Lawyers in Orlando Can Prepare You for Testifying
Our Orlando family lawyers at Anderson & Ferrin can help you with all aspects of your legal issue, including if you have to testify during trial. Call us today at 407-802-2283 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation and to learn more about how we can help.