If your domestic matter ends up in family court, your own credibility in court is central to the strength of your case. If you lose credibility, the judge may not believe anything you say. That can affect the outcome of your case. In this article, our family law attorneys at Hampton & Royce, L.C. draw on their extensive experience to explain how you can lose credibility in family court, so you can be certain to avoid the pitfalls.
Judges and lawyers have a lot of experience knowing when people are not telling the truth. If you tell a single lie in court, it very well could affect the outcome of your case.
Making a false statement or claim is one of the surest ways to lose credibility in family court. If you make a single untrue assertion — and the judge has reason to think that your statement is not true — everything else you say in court will be questionable. Once you lose credibility, there is virtually no way to get it back.
Exaggerating the truth is as risky as making an outright false statement. When you speak in court, state only the facts and circumstances as you know them. Do not exaggerate, tell falsehoods, or speculate about anything.
Showing disrespect to the judge is also a way to lose credibility. Your demeanor and manner of addressing the judge should be respectful and serious, not angry or resentful.
You should not argue with the judge or otherwise show disrespect to anyone in the courtroom when you answer questions. Family court proceedings are difficult enough for everyone, without a party’s conduct or attitude making matters worse and adding tension or acrimony to the process.
Even your attire in court can indicate that you do not take the court or the judicial process seriously. Your clothes should not be a distraction. While you do not need to dress formally or expensively, your apparel should indicate respect for the setting and official nature of the proceeding.
When you are asked a question, do not seize on your chance to talk as an opportunity to blame or attack the other side. Your case will not be decided based on how bad you can make the other person look. Giving your testimony is not an appropriate time to try to get revenge against the other person, either. Attacking the other party will accomplish nothing aside from reflecting poorly on you and undercutting your credibility.
Your testimony is your opportunity to convince the court of the value and merit of your position in the case. You accomplish that by focusing on the positive facts that support your requests to the court, not by making derogatory comments about (or for the benefit of) the other person.
If your case involves issues relating to children, like child custody or support, do not try to use your children to win your case. Doing so will negatively affect your credibility in court. If children are old enough to be interviewed in connection with the proceeding, you should not risk having your child tell an interviewer that you coached them about what to say or badmouthed the other parent to the child.
In a proceeding where children are involved, the judge will look for indications that parents can work together for the good of the child. Trying to use your child to manipulate the proceeding or get back at your spouse sends the wrong message to the court.
To establish and maintain your credibility with the judge, answer all questions truthfully and directly. Do not refuse to answer questions or give responses that do not respond to the question asked. You want the judge to see you as a forthright and honest person, not someone who is concealing evidence or refusing to cooperate in the court proceeding.
Before you go to family court, your lawyer will prepare you thoroughly. Your attorney knows what it will take to win your case and will support and advise you accordingly. Follow your lawyer’s guidance. Do not decide that you have a better idea about how to win in court. Failing to follow the direction your lawyer provides is likely to backfire and can seriously undermine your credibility in court.
Our domestic and family law attorneys at Hampton & Royce, L.C., assist clients with the full range of Kansas family law matters. We protect the interests and needs of our clients for both the short-term and the long-term. Our lawyers understand how emotional and difficult family legal matters, regardless of the issues that are involved.
For individuals interested in mediation and arbitration services for family law matters, we also have the experience and expertise to facilitate resolution of domestic issues privately. Alternative dispute resolution can help spouses reach a settlement and expedite the process of resolving all the issues relating to a divorce or other family matter.