5 Things Not to Say to a Judge in Family Court
Testifying in a divorce or child custody proceeding can be nerve-wracking and intimidating. This is especially true in high-emotion family law cases where the future of the witnesses’ marriage, family structure, and financial assets are in play. While you generally should speak to the court in the same conversational tone you would use in an elevated social setting or the workplace, there are a few additional rules to keep in mind. According to our Stockton family law attorney, below are what you should never say to a judge in family court.
Don’t Say Anything that Sounds Rehearsed
Your testimony should sound like a natural conversation between you and your attorney. While it is normal to rehearse testimony before going to court, do not commit every piece of your testimony to memory or over-rely on specific memorized phrases. Judges can tell when your testimony sounds rehearsed, which can make you appear insincere.
Steer Clear of Saying Anything in an Angry or Disrespectful Way
Family law disputes can become quite heated, but that does not mean you can lose your head when you are testifying. Do not react to questions with anger, as this can make you appear unstable. Also, treat the opposing party and his or her lawyers with respect. Lashing out at your spouse or former spouse can make you appear vindictive and untrustworthy to the court.
Our Stockton Family Law Attorney Strongly Suggests You Avoid Saying Anything that Gives More Information than Is Necessary
When the judge or the opposing counsel asks you a question, answer only that question as precisely as possible and then stop talking. The judge is not interested in anything besides what he or she asked you, and opposing counsel can use any additional information you volunteer against you. At the very least, rambling wastes the court’s time and can annoy your judge.
Do Not Exaggerate, Mislead, or State Anything Untrue
It goes without saying that you should never lie to a judge (that is perjury), but you should also avoid exaggerating the facts or misleading the court about any issue. Most judges can sense when a witness is stretching the truth, and they do not appreciate it. Also, avoid statements like “honestly” or “to tell you the truth.” Everything you say to a judge should be honest and truthful. Saying one of these phrases before a particular statement will cause the judge to question everything else you’ve said.
Do Not Argue With the Judge
Do not talk over, interrupt, or attempt to argue with the judge. Becoming combative with a judge, especially if it involves expletives or threats, is grounds for contempt. If you disagree with the judge on a particular matter, let your attorney know, and he or she will properly explain your disagreement with the court.
Contact a Stockton Family Law Attorney for More Information about Testifying in Family Law Court
Testifying in court can be a frightening prospect, but you do not have to do it alone. A family law attorney can coach you on the proper procedures for testifying and help you present the strongest case possible. For more information, please contact a Stockton family law attorney at McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau by using our online form or calling us at 209-477-8171.