How to Testify in a Custody Case


Moat people are nervous when they tesify in court. Answer questions completely, be honest and try to remain calm.

Things You'll Need

  • Briefcases
  • Talk with your attorney before the court date and find out what questions he will be asking as well as what you can expect from the other attorney.

  • Rehearse your testimony with your lawyer, but do not memorize lines or plan a performance.

  • Dress appropriately for court.

  • Sit on the witness stand when you are called. Swear the oath the judge asks you.

  • Refer to the judge as Your Honor, the attorneys as Mr. or Ms., and do not speak to the other parent directly.

  • Keep your hands in your lap and try not to fidget. Request a glass of water if your mouth is dry.

  • Look at the person who is questioning you and listen carefully to the question.

  • Be quiet if there is an objection to a question being asked of you or if the judge speaks. Ask to have a question rephrased if you do not understand it.

  • Do not treat the opposing attorney as an enemy. She is just doing a job. If you are treated unfairly, the judge or your attorney will intervene.

  • Avoid evasions. The judge can tell if you are avoiding answering a question. This does not mean you have to offer information that is not requested. If the other attorney asks you if you went to a bar last night, you should answer truthfully, but you do not need to add that you had three gin and tonics.

  • Try not to become angry, upset or loud. You need to get your testimony out for the court to consider. Becoming angry or upset prevents your story from being heard. Ask for a recess if you become overly emotional, begin to cry and can't stop, need to go to the bathroom or need some air.

  • Speak loudly and clearly. Do not use obscenities unless you are quoting what you heard someone say.

  • Remain quiet while others are testifying. If you need to tell your attorney something, write it down or whisper it.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your attorney forgot to ask you about something important or you think of something you would like the court to know, ask if you can speak privately with your attorney.
  • Judges appreciate witnesses who are cooperative, calm and rational. They become annoyed with those that raise their voices, refuse to follow directions and make things difficult.
  • If you are representing yourself, you will need to become familiar with the basic rules of evidence in your state, otherwise much of your evidence may not be admitted.
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