Do you want to win your hearing or trial?
Your actions, responses, and overall court room etiquette are just as important to the quality and skill of your family law attorney in the courtroom. Cases are won by having the most compelling evidence and making the least number of mistakes. Everything you do in the courtroom alongside your attorney should help, not hinder, what you are trying to accomplish. To get a better understanding of what your family law attorney’s duties are during a day in court lets delve into their responsibility’s…
The Lawyer’s Responsibility’s during Your Family Law Trial
- Thinking, multi-tasking, focusing, strategizing, exhausting the brain on your case, making sure you win.
- Connecting with the judge, figuring out what the judge likes or dislikes, getting the judge on your side.
- Making sure your evidence is heard properly.
- Prepping you on your case so you avoid providing inadvertent statements that could work against you.
- Making sure that the opposing party admits to facts and statements that will help your case.
- Coming up with and providing legal arguments that relate to your case.
- Making sure your direct examination is effective, complete and helpful.
- Making sure the cross examination of your spouse damages their case.
- Listening to the other side’s case to effectively defend against it.
- Making objections and submissions during the trial based on appropriate law.
- Making objections to inappropriate or irrelevant questions or evidence.
- Strategizing answers and questions for all witnesses at trial.
- Informing you of all the steps that are required for a trial.
How to Help Your Family Lawyer During Your Family Law Case
- Dress like it matters. Dress like you want to win your case– Men: should have a suit, that fits them, with dress shoes and a nice tie, nothing flashy. If you don’t own a suit go buy one at men’s warehouse for $99.00. Get a haircut and be clean shaven. If you have a beard make it tidy and well-groomed. Women: should have a suit coat, nice blouse, and either a skirt at or below the knee or suit pants. Heels should be no higher than half an inch. The look you are going for is professional, not flashy. The judge shouldn’t be able to tell who the attorney is
- Stay positive. Whether the case seems to be going good or bad, you should always maintain a positive attitude with a mix of humility, always. Keep a poker face no matter how much you disagree, how badly they are lying, or how you feel the ruling was.
- Judges. Judges have very keen senses, they hear everything and see everything in the courtroom, be cognizant of this always. Never, never, never do any of the following: mumble under your breath, roll your eyes, make a face of disgust, or make an outburst of any kind as these actions will certainly hinder your merit. Lastly, the judge should be respected always and be referred to as “your Honor” whenever you speak to them.
- Please at all costs avoid asking your lawyer “What do you think will happen?”, “Do you think we will lose?”, “Do you think we will win?”. These questions should be asked prior to the trial, not during it. These questions stress out the lawyer who is trying to keep focused on the facts and arguments of your case. Therefore, if you require more clarity of your chances of success, please discuss those with your lawyer prior to trial, and preferably by way of email so that if you forget something or have questions, you can re-read the email as a refresher. Please do not ask the lawyer about theory, strategy and what she is going to do during the trial. Trust your lawyer and follow her instructions. Don’t forget that there are no guarantees in trial, and sometimes judges make rulings no one could have predicted.
- Provide Evidence. During trial and in many occasions, more documents are needed to prove your case. Therefore, if the lawyer asks you to provide further documentation, please do so as your first priority and in an urgent manner.
- Read and Prepare Your Evidence. Your lawyer will go through the evidence you need to provide at your direct examination and your cross examination. Often the lawyer will type out the questions and the answers to those questions. It is your responsibility to read through such questions, read all your previous affidavits, all the examination for discovery transcripts and all the affidavits of other witnesses and opposing party. Failure to do so can be fatal to your case. If your answers to the same questions or facts are inconsistent, you may lose credibility at trial and therefore lose your case.
- Stay Focused and Give Direct Answers. If you are asked a question, only answer that question, let me say that again ONLY ANSWER THAT QUESTION and do not depart from what is being asked from you. Do not elaborate too much and do not talk about things that are not relevant to the question. When you are being questioned by opposing counsel their best hope is that you run off on a tangent and dig your own grave. Be short in your answers. The less you say the better. If there is more information that needs to come out, let your lawyer ask it on cross or re-direct (the next time you’re questioned by your lawyer). Imagine that you would rather tell a story or give information to your lawyer and not theirs.
- Do Not Attack Your Ex’s Character. No one including the judge cares about what type of a person your spouse is or what type of a person you are, it just looks petty. The judge’s job is to resolve your case with facts and law in order to figure out how much money needs to be distributed or who gets custody. Calling your spouse names, saying he/she betrayed you, attacking your spouse’s character will only damage your case and your character. So, stay factual. Do not use adjectives (once again, don’t elaborate). Do not give opinion no matter how much you are provoked to give it, or if you are specifically asked using the words opinion. If characterization is needed, your lawyer will do that job during his/her oral and written arguments.
- Give Your Family Lawyer Space to Think and Concentrate: During court breaks, it is best to let the lawyer take a break and regroup. So, unless something is absolutely urgent, let the lawyer rest her brain. However, if the lawyer asks you any questions, please provide precise answers.
- Take Notes: If you hear evidence which is untruthful or you have something to say about it, please write it down during trial and hand over your notes to the lawyer during breaks so the lawyer knows what questions to ask. Again, as said previously, do not make an outburst, roll your eyes, make a “tssst” sound in disgust, etc. it will only hurt your case, the judge will see it and it will look unfavorably upon you.
Bottom line … follow these rules, stay calm, trust in your attorney, and you will reach the favorable outcome you seek. Good luck!
If you have questions, or need advice, contact me in Orlando, Florida today. I’m here for you.