How Do I Testify in a Divorce Case?

Hinsdale divorce lawyer, testify in a divorce caseEveryone seems to ask this question when they are going through divorce. First of all, not every case is contested and requires deposition or courtroom testimony. In fact, it is less frequent than you might assume. However, let us say, for the sake of the argument, that you are called to testify in a case, either as a party to the case such as the husband or wife or as a witness to events in the case.

You may be called to testify as a willing witness on your own behalf or as a witness for friend or family.

Assuming that it is a “friendly” request for your testimony—you are called as a friend of the person whose case it is—then you will be examined on direct examination by an attorney who will try to ask you questions which are designed for you to answer in a positive way to help your friend’s case.

Practice Note: You should always be prepared ahead of time by the lawyer who will be asking the questions so that you know what questions to expect and what your answers will be ahead of your actual testimony. An unprepared witness may hurt the case you are trying to help.

The direct examination of the witness for a party to the case usually begins with simple questions such as:

  • Your name and address;
  • Your schooling or educational background; and
  • Some questions to establish what your testimony is about in general.

Then, perhaps you are there to describe what occurred on certain day—eye witness testimony. Or, perhaps, to give testimony in support of the husband or wife.

What is Important to Remember in Giving Testimony at a Deposition or Trial?

Rules of the Game: Tell the truth. As obvious as that seems, many people tell lies during a divorce case. Sometimes they exaggerate. Or, they do not tell the whole truth. That is why the Oath given to you and that you swear to is: “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God.”

The truth is very important. First of all, because it is the truth, telling the truth is the proper thing to do. Lies do nothing but corrupt our system of justice. There is also the are possibility of being held in contempt of court for lying or of a criminal charge of perjury even lying.

There are also many practical reasons as to why telling the truth works best. First, because it is the truth, your truthful testimony is consistent with all the other things you have to say which are also truthful.

Most importantly, what people do not realize is that the truth sells. When a party or witness tells the real, unvarnished truth, the Judge, who is experienced and usually an expert at telling truth from lies, will usually know you are a truthful person who should be believed. It is believable because it is true.

In addition, a lie tends to propagate itself. By that I mean once you start lying you cannot stop.

Further, when you tell a lie, all of your other truthful testimony becomes tainted so that none of the truth is heard but only that one lie you told. There is an expression in the bar: “Once a liar, always a liar.”

Second Big Rule: Do not exaggerate. Do not inflate the truth. Do not color the truth. In the oath that you take as a witness it says, "to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." This part of the oath is also simply sound advice. If you exaggerate you will not be believed. So, once again, simply tell the truth.

Finally, telling the truth and not exaggerating is important to establish yourself as a good witness. Part of the process after your initial testimony is that you will be cross examined by the other side’s lawyer. A lawyer who really knows how to cross-examine witnesses cannot do anything to you if you were telling the truth and not exaggerating. The lawyer’s cross-examination of you will simply not work.

Consult with a Skilled Illinois Family Law Lawyer Today

If you are considering divorce, would like to discuss your concerns with a skilled and compassionate Hinsdale, IL divorce lawyer, please contact Martoccio & Martioccio today. Call 630-920-8855 to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our attorneys today.

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