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The Dos and Don'ts of Testifying in Family Court

A lot of people are nervous about having to speak in open court when their family law case is scheduled.  They are often emotional about the subject matter as it can be about their child and custody or a scary domestic violence incident.  Here are a few tips to help you prepare:

Do: Dress appropriately.  Wear what you would to a job interview or a religious service.  You want to show the court that you respect the process and what you are there to discuss.  Also, if you feel comfortable in the way you present yourself it can also calm some nerves.

Don't:  Wear clothing that is too tight, shows too much skin, exposes bra straps or underwear bands.  Don't look like you just rolled out of bed or the gym.  The judge wants to see that you can take care of yourself and give the family court process the respect it is due.

Do: Organize your thoughts.  Most attorneys will prepare with clients (our firm does!) before a court hearing to make sure that everyone is clear on key points.  But, it also is helpful to create a timeline or outline for yourself to review and organize your thoughts prior to your hearing date.  You cannot bring this with you when testifying, but it can help you make sure you are prepared to hit all key points and not leave anything out.

Don't: Ramble or bring up irrevelvant points.  While the judge certainly wants to give you your day in court, he or she does not have time to hear your entire life history.  Stick to clear points that the judge can use to learn about your family and make the best decision possible.

Do: Be honest with your attorney.  Your attorney is there to represent your best interests.  If he or she does not have all the facts that can undermine their work.  Tell them everything and let them decide what and how the court should hear those particular facts.

Don't: Hide facts.  This goes for hiding them from your attorney or from the court.  There is nothing worse than having the court catch you in a lie or ommission of truth.  It shows disresepect and hurts your credibility greatly.  

If you have a family court hearing coming up and are nervous about speaking before a judge or master, contact The Law Office of Diana C. Schimmel, Esquire today to schedule a consultation.

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