If your family law case doesn’t settle, you will be headed to court. Being in front of a judge can be intimidating, but there are some practical tips you can take before and during trial to make it go more smoothly.
- Before trial
Document as much as you can. Text communications, emails, and other information should be documented. This will make it much easier to back up your allegations against the other party and support your own. Although you will still need to give oral testimony in court, having a key piece of evidence reduced to a writing or some other tangible record will boost your position.
Try to guess what the other party will say. Your lawyer will need to know as much as possible about the opposing party. Part of this is predicting what sort of evidence or testimony the other side may offer. Since you know the other party in the case, you are in the best position to offer an educated guess as to what strategy and arguments that person will use.
Be upfront with your lawyer. Many family law litigants are reluctant to share information with their own attorneys. Remember, your lawyer is bound to keep certain information you share in confidence. It is protected by the attorney-client privilege. If your lawyer does not have a full picture of the facts, he or she cannot argue your position as well.
- At trial
Dress and act professionally. On the day of trial, don’t wear jeans or flip flops. Show the judge you’re serious and that you respect the process. Avoid inappropriate comments, sighing, rolling your eyes, or other disrespectful reactions, especially when the opposing party or a witness is testifying.
Control your emotions. Part of acting professionally is to keep your emotions in check. Lawyers understand that family law cases are stressful and trying. In all likelihood, it’s one of the worst emotional experiences you will go through. But make your lawyer’s job easier by not letting your feelings get the best of you.
Answer questions clearly and confidently. When your lawyer asks a question, answer it clearly, confidently, and loud enough for the judge and others in the courtroom to hear. You also have to answer any questions from the opposing counsel truthfully, but if you’re asked an inappropriate question your lawyer may object.
Why This Matters
Discuss these and other tips with your family law attorney. No one really wants to be in court, especially for something as difficult as a domestic matter. With the right preparation, however, you can approach your trial date with confidence.