In Part One of the article, we discussed the best time to start preparing for a trial (as soon as possible), what has to be considered in terms of evidence that can be used, the importance of understanding statutes, and creating the pretrial statement. Next, these divorce tips for trial preparation will focus on the testimony.
Preparing the Testimony
Once you have your finished, you will then want to prepare your testimony. One of the best things you can do is use the pretrial statement you created as your guide. If you have done a good job in figuring out what is most important to you, gathering evidence, and understanding the statutes, it can work well as a guide for prepping your testimony. You know that those are the things you will be talking about on the stand, so it makes sense to use them as your guide.
It’s important to remember that the judges want things to be as formulaic and basic as possible. It will make it easier for them to parse what’s being said in the testimony and to see how and where it applies. Let them know what you are talking about and how it applies before going into the evidence. The judges have a lot of cases, and you want to make sure they know what you are talking about in your case at any given time.
One of the other benefits of the pretrial statement is that it can often be used to help anticipate what the other party is going to say, so you can more easily rebut it. This is extremely helpful for those who are representing themselves since they will have to do cross-examination. If you do a good job in pretrial, it becomes easier to anticipate what they are going to say and rebutting it, then you know that those are the types of questions you will want to ask on cross-examination.
Practice Telling the Story
You don’t want the first time that you recount your testimony to be when you are in court and talking to the judge. You need to take the time to practice, and you can’t do it just once. The testimony is important, and it can determine what the judge does and says in your case.
You want to make sure that you are as calm as possible and that you are sticking to the facts. Understandably, people often get emotional when they are recounting their stories. However, even while practicing your divorce trial preparation, you have to try not to let emotion get the better of you. The facts are what the judge cares about. The judges understand emotion and that it’s sometimes hard not to get choked up about certain things.
While they may understand emotion and not let it affect their judgments, there are certain things that they do not like. They do not like anger, and they do not like rudeness and disrespect.
It’s often a good idea to practice with friends and family that you can trust not to talk with your ex about your testimony. Those who have opted to work with an attorney will practice with them, so they have a better understanding of how it works including the pace and flow.
You also want to have a good idea of what you should and shouldn’t say. Let’s look at an example.
Instead of saying, “He’s a bad parent”, you would instead say, “He drinks six beers a day, is late to pick up the kids, and doesn’t supervise homework.” Having evidence of his drinking, such as pictures, and tardy statements from the school for pickups will be beneficial. Remember, the more relevant evidence you have the better. Don’t tell the judge conclusions. Show them evidence and let them come to those conclusions on their own.
What If It’s Video Testimony?
If you are going to have a video trial, you will likely know ahead of time. However, with COVID still being a problem, as well as its variants, there is a chance that a case that would have been in-person will now be heading to video. The preparation is essentially the same. The biggest difference is that you will be on a video screen rather than in person.
However, just because you might be on a video screen does not mean that you should wear casual wear. Treat it just like you would if you were getting ready to go to court with others in the courtroom with you. Make sure you are in a quiet location where you can hear what’s happening. Be as professional as possible when conduction your divorce trial preparation.
The Day of the Case
When the day of the hearing rolls around, it’s normal to be nervous. You might even feel that you are getting nervous a few days ahead of time. As long as you have prepared for the trial and practiced your testimony, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s easy to calm down.
You should make sure that you have a good night’s sleep before the trial, and that you eat well to have enough energy. However, you will want to avoid having too much caffeine. After all, you do not want to seem jittery. Because there’s a lot of stress, you will want to do whatever you can that will help you reduce those feelings of nervousness. For some, it might be meditation before heading to court or listening to soothing music, for example. Figure out what works for you.
Get Help from an Attorney When Needed
Can you prepare for trial on your own? Yes, it’s possible to handle all aspects of your divorce on your own if you would like. However, it may not always be the right choice to handle it all on your own, especially if there are major conflicts or if you don’t have confidence about certain aspects of the case. You don’t have to work with an attorney for everything, but you can use their services in a limited scope. This can help you save money on attorney fees, but ensure you still have the right advice guiding you through your divorce trial preparation.