Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? This is the oath which a witness takes in divorce court. The star witness in divorce court is you. So what do you need to know about testifying in court?
First, listen. Listen to the question. Make certain that you understand the question before answering. If you do not understand the question, ask the attorney to repeat the question.
Second, clarify the question or be prepared to qualify your answer if necessary. This means that you must watch out for compound questions, questions that assume facts that are not true, or that give an incorrect summary of the facts.
Third, answer the question, but only the question asked. This means that you should not volunteer information. Answer the question truthfully, even if the answer hurts you. Evading the question just begs the other attorney to grind you down until you do answer, and then the answer looks worse.
Finally, control negative emotions. In a divorce, it is not unusual for a witness to cry and that is natural and understandable. But showing anger, spite, and similar emotions will hurt you more than any answers you might give.
Cindy Diggs, Board Certified in Family Law and Civil Trial Law, Diggs & Sadler 5300 Memorial Drive, Suite 900, Houston, Texas 77007, (713) 766-5355.