Family law cases can be relatively simple or exceedingly complex. Whether you are facing child custody and support, or equitable distribution and alimony, you need to be prepared for trial. While many cases settle, you can never assume yours will. These are some tips for how best to prepare for, and conduct, your day in court.
- Leading up to the trial
Get your details right. It is a rare family law case that does not have a significant back story. This is especially true with child custody, where long-running hostilities between parents can stretch back years. It is important that your Greenville, SC family law attorney knows why, when, and how certain events took place. But it’s vital that you pay attention to details. Don’t gloss over them, and don’t assume that seemingly inconsequential information won’t come up. You don’t want opposing counsel to question you on the witness stand about something you forgot to tell your family law attorney.
Document everything. Testimony is a form of evidence, and you will be asked numerous questions in the courtroom. But sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Especially if that picture is a screenshot of a particularly devastating text message exchange. Your best bet is to keep all communications you can in writing, and to save them all. Not every text or email will be useful or particularly insightful. However, a contentious or disputed issue could very well be resolved by one.
Predict what the other side will say. The opposing party is not a stranger. You have been married or in a relationship with this person long enough to know what he or she knows. It’s important to try to anticipate what the other party will say at trial or in a hearing. That same rule goes for any witnesses you believe he or she will call. Inform your Greenville, SC family law attorney of anything relevant pertaining to the other side’s argument. This will help your lawyer prepare for cross-examination – and better prepare to argue on your behalf.
- In the courtroom
Don’t deny the undeniable. Some parties believe that if they are vague or non-committal in answering questions, it will help their case. But claiming you do not know something that is obviously true will backfire. For instance, if the opposing party claims you sent a text message, and you know you did, don’t feign ignorance. This does not mean you have to admit to every allegation leveled at you by the opposing party. But denying everything can get tiresome, especially to the judge.
Answer questions clearly. By the time you get to court, you and your Greenville, SC attorney will have prepared extensive questions. When asked a question, answer it clearly and move on. Many unprepared individuals give rambling, imprecise, or incoherent answers. This forces your attorney to regroup and only muddles your position before the judge. Give considerable thought to your answers and your side of the story will literally speak for itself.
Keep your emotions in check. It’s not unusual for a party to get emotional on the witness stand, especially when children are involved. Your emotions, however, should not define your position. In a child custody case, you need convincing reasons for why your wishes are in the child’s best interests. A display of emotion may complement your argument, but it can never act as a substitute for it.
Dress, and act, professionally. You might think this is an obvious one. But too many parents and spouses give little thought to the attire they choose or how they act in court. Dressing professionally shows the judge you take the trial seriously. Refrain from inappropriate behavior, and follow the guidance of your Greenville, SC family law attorney.
WORK WITH YOUR GREENVILLE, SC ATTORNEY TO PREPARE FOR COURT
Getting ready for a trial or hearing can be overwhelming and stressful. The above tips can reduce some of the burden and help convince the judge of your position. At Greenville Family Law, we believe in working closely with our clients to achieve their desired outcomes. Give us a call today about your case.