You are standing in the witness box. Everyone is staring at you. Slowly you feel your heart chasing something that is far away. Your sweat starts running down your body. And then questions fall on your head. And there is no denying: being questioned in a witness box can be very nerve-wracking and scary. Frankly, giving evidence in any court case is frightening even for the most seasoned and experienced witness. But the difference between being a witness in family law court and any other court is that the stakes are too high. I mean, the lives of your children, the financial security of your family and so many more important things are placed under the spotlight in family law cases.
The good news is that there are guidelines available to assist you in family law court. So take a breath, try not to be intimidated by the thought of giving evidence in family law court. After all, it is not like criminal court and usually, there are no courtroom dramas. The proceedings are less formal and calmer. Moreover, the only people allowed to be in the courtroom are the lawyers, the judge, you and your spouse. Are you less nervous now? Here are some tips that will help you when giving evidence in family law court.
#1 Crystal clear
Keep in mind that while you talk, the lawyers and the judge will take notes. So make sure to talk clearly, slowly and loud, so that everyone can hear every word you say. And also, if you can manage to talk a bit slower than normal it will also help you keep yourself calm. And we all know how nervous you can get.
#2 Keep your eyes on the target
One important thing that you can do while giving evidence in the family law court is to look at the judge when you answer the questions. The reason behind that is that you are answering all the questions for the benefit of the judge and not the person who is asking you questions. It is the judge that you want to get your message across and no one else. Remember, that the final and decisive voice is the judge’s.
#3 What is it that you want to say
Before going to the witness box you need to know the exact message that you want to send. Be calm and clear about the information you are going to provide. Moreover, giving evidence is your one opportunity to have your say about your family case.
#4 Straight talk
And when I say straight talk, I mean no jokes or sarcasm in the courtroom. Very often people use humor as a defense mechanism. However, you need to get yourself together and not let that happen in court. And since you want the judge to like you and understand your position, don’t make any jokes and don’t laugh at them, unless the judge makes one.
#5 Keep it cool
Next, one very most important advice that you can get about giving evidence in the family law court is not to lose your temper. And yes, a lot of questions can make you angry or nervous. However, if you don’t like a specific question, just take a breath and try to keep calm. And it all may be planned: your spouse’s lawyer may try to get a raise out of you, hoping you will lose your temper in front of the judge.
When giving evidence in court try to keep your answers short and precise. If you think that you have already answered the question, don’t go on and on about the same topic, adding more than you should. Wait for the next question and only then provide more information. However, besides keeping your answers short, you should also try and make your point clear.
#7 Don’t be afraid to ask
Imagine yourself in the witness box. A lot of questions are being asked to you. If you don’t understand a question, you should ask for it to be repeated. Of course, you also have the choice of guessing what the question was. However, that might not have a very happy ending. So if you are not sure about a specific question, just ask for it to be repeated.
#8 Take a breath
Now, what if you heard the question and you are not sure about your answer. Maybe you need a minute to think about it. And you are allowed to do so. Therefore, keep in mind, that if you want time to think about your answer you should take a breath or a drink of water. Never rush when answering questions.
Maybe the most important advice regarding giving evidence in court is to be honest with all your answers. Always answer truthfully. And if you are not sure about your answer, or you don’t know the answer, just let the judge know about it. Remember, that if the judge catches you lying about an answer, you put in danger all of your answers. I mean, what if you lied about everything else, too?
#10 You are not on trial
And finally, family law cases are very different from criminal cases. You are not on trial to be punished for something you did wrong. And that gives ease of mind, right? The only purpose of the hearing is for both parties to have the opportunity to put forward information for their case.
Giving evidence in court can be very stressful, especially if that evidence is in family law court. But one important thing that you should keep in mind is that if you just get into the witness box and be honest with your answers, everything will be fine. Moreover, if you have a family case you need to find an experienced family law attorney. And in case you are getting divorced, and need to appear in court for divorce proceedings, where your appearance is not mandatory, just find an appearance attorney with the help of AppearMe.