While some divorce cases get settled out of court, countless other couples must go to court to reach an agreement. For some people, the thought of being in the courtroom and having to testify is scary. These emotions can lead to giving the wrong answers, not providing enough information, and in many cases providing too much information.
If your appearance in divorce court has you feeling apprehensive, follow these five tips to help ease your worries.
Dress & Act Appropriately
While divorce court is not a black-tie affair, you also shouldn’t show up in sweatpants and a ripped shirt. Look presentable. Dress appropriately in clothing that fits well and looks business professional. Dress to impress to show that you are taking the proceedings seriously.
You also want to act appropriately; this means not using foul language or yelling out in the courtroom, no matter how much you may disagree about what is being said. Be courteous to your spouse, other lawyers, judge, and anyone else in the court.
Be Prepared, but Not Rehearsed
Your lawyer should prepare you for what topics may come up during court. You want to have the correct information at your fingertips, but you don’t want to make it sound like you’re reading off a cue card. When you are answering, pretend like you’re telling a story; this will sound natural while still giving the right information.
Pause Before Answering
If you’re nervous while on the stand, you may jump right into an answer without thinking it through all the way. Resist the temptation to do that, and instead, take a breath, gather your thoughts, and then answer the question. Even a few seconds of thinking can give you a better, accurate answer.
Give Brief Answers
When you’re asked a question, answer it honestly, but don’t give extra details that are unneeded. If there is an awkward silence from the time you answer one question until the next one is asked, resist the urge to fill that silence with more information. You might be surprised at how a silent gap in questions can make people nervous and make them say things they shouldn’t. Remember, only give additional information if asked; that prevents you from accidentally saying something that can provide your spouse’s attorney ammunition to use against you.
When asked a question while on the stand, answer honestly because you are under oath. Even if the answer may hurt your case, you need to be honest. If you honestly don’t know the answer, say so, but don’t lie about not knowing.
You may not have the correct information needed to answer the question, and that’s okay. It’s better to acknowledge this than to make up something to answer the question. Lying under oath can have serious consequences, not to mention, harm your case.
Be sure to share any questions or anxiety you have about your case with your attorney. Your attorney wants the best possible outcome for you and will help to prepare you for your court appearance as much as possible. Remember to be honest, dress and act appropriately, and give brief answers. Doing these things can help your case in court.
If you’re looking for aggressive divorce representation with exceptional outcomes or need sound legal advice, please feel free to contact me.