It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll have to testify at some point in your divorce proceedings.
Most often, this occurs at your final court date, or “prove up.” During this court date, both you and your significant other will stand before the judge and testify to certain facts in your Judgment and Marital Settlement Agreement. Your attorney will ask you questions and, in most instances, you’ll answer either “yes” or “no.”
You may also be required to testify during discovery at a meeting called a deposition or before the judge if there is a hearing in your case on an issue during the divorce proceedings, such as child support or maintenance.
The issue with testifying isn’t that it’s difficult. In fact, the only problem is that most individuals don’t know how to testify because what they know comes from television or other, unrealistic sources.
Read on to learn what testifying in court actually requires and 5 tips to help you relax when it’s your turn to step up to the bench!
What Testifying Actually Requires
Testifying at your prove-up date is simple: You’ll answer questions your attorney asks, which are almost always “yes” responses. He or she will ask you if you recognize certain documents, can verify signatures on those documents, and confirm important facts contained in the documents.
Testifying at a deposition can be longer and trickier. A deposition is basically an interview with the opposing attorney, typically at either your attorney’s office or the opposing attorney’s office. The opposing attorney will ask you questions, and you provide answers. While your attorney can object to questions for various reasons, you will still be required to answer them at the time of the deposition. Please take note that depositions aren’t all that common. Typically, they’re only brought into a case if there’s information missing about financials or other important matters.
Testifying at hearings during your case is also a brief process. You’ll appear before the judge and typically offer answers to questions for no more than 10 to 15 minutes. The idea is to present the most important information to the judge so he or she can resolve the issue accordingly.
5 Tips to Keep in Mind for Your Divorce Testimony
- Always Tell the Truth – The only issues that will arise from your testimony is if you’re dishonest. Always tell the truth, even if you think it may damage your case. Doing the opposite will only do more harm than good.
- Be Brief – Short, succinct answers are always best. Answer questions with “yes,” “no,” “I don’t know,” “I don’t remember,” or by offering brief facts. Only offer more information where you think it strengthens your case.
- Listen to the Question – While your responses should be brief, you should also listen to the full question and provide full responses. If you don’t understand a question or word, ask. If you don’t understand an entire question, never hazard a guess.
- Don’t Volunteer Unnecessary Information – Remember, the other attorney is questioning you to build a case for your spouse, their client. This means you shouldn’t volunteer additional information if it isn’t required. In all likelihood, it’s going to lead to more questions that wouldn’t have been asked otherwise.
- If You Make a Mistake, Correct it Immediately – While you’re afforded time to alter your responses if necessary after the deposition, you shouldn’t wait to correct a mistake. Instead, correct it immediately while the testimony is unfolding.
Are You Ready to Testify?
Many clients are nervous to testify, and understandably so. However, with the tips above in mind and the other information above, you can ensure you offer the best answers possible to build your case and comply with all necessary court proceedings.
If you’re considering divorce, Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. can help! Larry has over 36 years of experience in divorce and will ensure you understand all of the proceedings and processes throughout your case.
Call 630-470-9990 for your free, 30-minute consultation or request your free consultation using our online form.