Divorce trials are different from other civil and criminal trials because the events that led to the divorce are still going on and creating evidence and issues up to the point of trial. For this reason, a great deal of trial prep occurs near the time of the trial to capture the essence of the divorce dynamics. In this situation, it is often hard to determine any sort of rules to follow in presenting your case to the court (i.e., your testimony).
However, over the years, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys have observed a few relative constant do’s and don’ts for testimony of their clients they share for general educational purposes in this blog post to make you a more informed legal consumer.
At trial, do answer the questions asked of you on direct examination or cross examination. The temptation for many litigants is to go into narrative and over answer the question or answer the question presented differently than it was asked. Indiana’s judges are skilled fact finders who appreciate direct and honest questions, even if the testimony is not always favorable. Everyone has facts in their case that are not always fatal to the custody or property objective.
Equally, do show emotion and tell your story. A stoic or person acting like they are trying to show the right emotion to the question is transparent to a skilled judge or counsel. Be yourself and tell your story.
Do prepare for being in court early and staying late. Even the best judge and trial attorneys cannot always accurately predict how long a trial will take. Sometimes courts start late or run overtime and not being prepared for this is a way to unnecessarily delay the proceedings and perhaps reflect poorly on you. Know where to park. Have child care arranged.
The don’ts are just as important. The key is do not distract who has to monitor witnesses, the court, opposing counsel and be aware of the totality of the court room. Have a pre-arranged way to communicate, such as at breaks or by notes.
The final don’t is judge how the case is going, second guess your attorney, or blurt out. Trials are dynamic and such acts or inactions my severely impact the plan or case theme to reach your trial objective as it relates to custody or property. The reasons certain aspects of trial may be changed is the on-going changes that a trial dictated. Trust your lawyer and the impartiality of the system and judicial officer.
This blog was written by divorce advocates at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., who practice all forms of domestic relations, paternity and adoption law throughout the State of Indiana. This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, nor is it a solicitation for legal services. It is advertising.