It is important to remember that a hearing or trial is a very important
snapshot of your life and you will be judged either by the judge or jury
based on your every move and action or reaction. Smiling at the wrong
time or laughing at an inappropriate joke will crush your credibility.
Being too stiff can make you seem like you are hiding something. Being
too confident can come across as callous. So what are the rules?
Tell the truth.
Above all, tell the truth. Tell the absolute truth. Lying rarely works.
Family court judges and lawyers see people lie in family court often and
can tell when someone isn’t truthful. Even a “fudge”
or “white lie” can make you look bad and damage your credibility.
Appropriate and inappropriate communications
Don’t communicate with the other lawyer. The ethics code prohibits
lawyers from talking to parties who are represented by counsel. Further,
avoid outbursts in the courtroom. Even if the other side tells the worst
lie about you that you can imagine, shouting out “that’s a
lie” will only make you look worse and do nothing to help your case.
Don’t extend your anger into the hallway. You can’t know when
a member of the court staff is in the hallway to observe bad behavior
and report back to the judge. Take the proceedings seriously. Funny things
happen in court, but you don’t have to laugh at the joke when you
are dealing with a serious issue.
Control your emotions.
Family court involves emotional issues. But, even so, it is important for
you to keep your emotions under control. Failing to control yourself in
court will cause a question as to your ability to control yourself in
stressful parenting situations in front of your child. This will cause
a judge to question your ability to parent and make your case very difficult.
Know details about your case.
It is important to remember details about important events involved in
your life, and your case. Making an allegation that the other party did
something wrong but failing to remember the details of the situation will
make the judge question your credibility about the entire event. Dates
and times are especially important. If you allege that your spouse threw
a bowl at you during an argument, you should remember the date and time
and details surrounding the event. Otherwise, it will hurt your believability
about the importance of the event. If it was that important, you would
remember more – that’s how the judge will see it.
Credibility is the most important factor in how you present in court during
a hearing or trial. Being believable and likeable is a very important
key to getting a good result in court. Having appropriate interactions
and reactions is a key to this.