When you are called to court to testify against someone, it is natural that you feel nervous while speaking before the judge. Above all, appearing at a family court is likely to be an emotional experience – as it involves sensitive and intense situations – such as child custody, divorce issues, domestic violence, and other issues regarding your family.
If you are called to a family court, be prepared, and keep yourself composed.
Read these tips for testifying in family court.
Tips for testifying in family court
Keep a respectful and serious attitude
The family court or any other court is not the place where you can behave roughly, laugh loudly at somebody’s comments, or behave uncontrollably. You cannot use slang words in front of the judge or chew something while speaking. Wait patiently for your turn, and behave appropriately when you are called.
Dress in the best outfit you have in your closet. Arrive at the courtroom on time, well-groomed, and cleanly dressed. Dress like you are going to give an interview at an organization. You must wear a formal dress for your court appointment.
Before coming to the court, talk to your attorney who might help you in gathering all the facts you would need to present in the court. Outline your thoughts to help convey your point in the courtroom. Being organized will also prevent you from thinking and mumbling in front of the judge. Stick to the facts and figures that help the court to arrive at the best decision for your family.
Stay calm and tell the truth
You have been called to the witness box to tell the facts and reality, not for the exaggeration of your opinions. Listen to the queries, put forward by the judge or the prosecution, and respond to them in a professional manner so that your future statements would be justified. If you need to compose yourself for the clarification, ask for it. For things that you are unsure of, you must say ‘I do not know or I do not remember’.
Do not cross-question
While you are at the witness box, and the judge or the prosecution are exchanging their views on the case, you must keep silent, and listen to them carefully. If you feel that what you were saying was something important, then take permission to continue your statement, after they have finished theirs.
Avoid voluntarily delivering your opinions
While mentioning the facts, just answer the questions that the prosecution has asked for. Avoid voluntarily adding your opinions, or anything else which is not required. If a straight Yes or No suffice your answer, then go for it. It is not necessary to lengthen your response.
Correct your statements if required
Experiencing frustration when things do not go your way, is normal. On this occasion, you might misspeak about the event. If you think that your opinion does not reflect what might have happened on a particular occasion – ask to correct your statement as early as possible – and provide the reason why you want to do so.
Avoid making absolute statements
Unless you remember the exact details about an event, don’t mention them until you have visualized everything. Avoid responding to a question saying that “That’s all you know’. Memory may deceive you sometimes, or you may remember important details later to mention when a recalling moment arises. You can continue to relate the event saying “That’s what I came through with …… by the event right now”.
Answer the questions accurately
You may face prosecution encountering you against the statements you have made before. What happens when this kind of conversation takes place? You may get irritated or annoyed by the question, and it may trigger you to say something that goes against your case. Avoid overreacting by staying calm, and mention what you exactly know about the case.
Your attitude can affect your decision
If you have been sentenced by the court, you should not say anything after you have your time on the witness stand. Once the case is resolved, you must avoid making statements sitting in the room.
Until the case is resolved, you must not talk about the court hearings and statements – passed by judges – outside the court or to other witnesses. Similarly, do not ask for the testimonies of other witnesses.
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