Having witnesses is an important element in any Greenville, SC family law case. But not all witnesses are created equal. Some can help your case, while others can do severe damage to it (intentionally or not). Different types of witnesses testify to different things. Understanding the role that witnesses will play in your case will help you prepare for your hearing or trial. And working with an experienced Greenville, SC family law attorney, you’ll be ready.
Witness testimony may be important in a variety of family law cases. Consider as one example child custody. These cases often involve allegations between parents that one or the other is unfit. Sometimes, this means contentions that there is child abuse, neglect, illicit drug use, and other behaviors harmful to children. But even in relatively amicable cases, parents can accuse each other of being less than perfect. Perhaps one parent is not attending parent-teacher conferences, or letting the child participate in extracurricular sports.
You may need a witness to substantiate basic factual allegations. These witnesses could include family members and friends, teachers, coaches, and numerous others. These individuals may be called upon to help establish disputed issues. Most likely, your Greenville, SC family law attorney won’t need witnesses (other than yourself) to establish mundane matters in court. But where allegations involve especially controversial issues between the parents, you need these fact witnesses.
Fact witnesses can help you, but they could do more harm than good. Let’s say you want to call your child’s basketball coach to the witness stand. The coach can testify that the other parent took the child out of the basketball program. Your child benefited greatly from this program, so removing him or her shows poor judgment on the other parent’s part.
At first, these details may appear to benefit your side in the case. However, the other parent’s attorney gets to question any witness you call. That includes questions that could undermine the witness’s testimony. The attorney may ask the coach whether he knew the child was withdrawn because the other parent lost their job. The job loss altered the parent’s schedule and he or she simply couldn’t get the child to practice on time. Therefore, the decision to remove your child was less attributable to poor parental judgment. Now, the value of your witness has been damaged significantly.
It’s easy to see only the positive aspects of your witnesses’ testimonies. The above example shows how short-sighted this can be, however. It’s therefore vital to discuss any and all potential witnesses with your Greenville, SC family law attorney. Your attorney will speak to these witnesses and vet their testimony, identifying potential weaknesses that may be exploited.
Besides fact witnesses, there are expert witnesses. These are professionals who can testify about specialized disciplines that may be relevant to your child custody case. As an example, an expert witness could include a therapist that the child is seeing. A layperson cannot testify as to the topics that the therapist may discuss in court.
Whether you need an expert witness will depend heavily on the facts in your case. As with fact witnesses, expert witnesses can be challenged in court by the other party’s attorney. It is equally important that your Greenville, SC family law attorney talks with your expert witnesses about the case.
Regardless of what kinds of witnesses you have, it’s essential to start preparing long before court. Make a list of any individuals with relevant knowledge about your case. Write down basic contact information like their phone numbers and email addresses. Next, make notes about the specific facts to which they can testify. Then, write down anything on which they may be challenged. This could include anything from biases to weaknesses in their actual testimony. Work with your Greenville, SC family law attorney to put together your witness list.
We Can Help With Your Greenville, SC Family Law Case
Witness preparation is a sometimes overlooked part of a family law case. You know that your witnesses are in your favor, so it’s easy to assume their testimony will help. But preparing for a case requires testing the strength of every piece of evidence, including witness testimony. At Greenville Family Law, we know that the outcome of your matter could change your life. That’s why we work hard to advocate for you. Call us today to talk about your case.