Don’t Lose Your Lunch: How to Testify Fearlessly in Pennsylvania Family Court
Does the idea of testifying in a Pennsylvania court make you want to toss your cookies? Do you imagine that once you take the stand a judge will be staring down your throat? An opposing attorney making you feel like an idiot? Well, fear not. While testifying can often seem like a more terrible version of public speaking, with a good Pittsburgh family law attorney, you’ll be able to breeze through the experience with no battle wounds. This article will walk you through what to expect when you take the stand. Let’s get to it.
When you walk in the courtroom, you and your attorney will have a seat together at a table that faces the judge’s bench. Your attorney will probably have a lot of papers that will be splayed upon the table in front of you.
First, the judge will swear you in. Either the judge or a member of his or her staff will have you take an oath that says something like this: “Do you solemnly swear or affirm, that the testimony you are about to give today will be the truth and nothing but the truth?” During this swearing, you’ll probably be feeling a little nervous, and maybe even want to run from the courtroom screaming. Resist. The. Urge. You were born to testify. You can do this.
Second, you’ll sit in a small chair at a desk. On this desk, there’ll be a microphone. The said microphone will be about 550 feet from your mouth, so it’s important that you speak loudly and clearly. If not, the judge will continue to ask you to “speak up,” which can make you even more anxious.
Third, it’s your time to shine. Your attorney, whom has spent hours preparing for this trial and will fervently advocate for you, is going to ask you questions. In the beginning, she or he will ask you simple questions: your name, your address, the names of your children, etc. You’ll finally start to relax and your body will become less tense. Then your attorney will ask you some tougher questions: Why do you want to keep the house? Who is your ex-spouse’s new paramour? What do your children do after school? When is the last time you were intimate with your spouse? Eek. While this may seem painful, you and your attorney should have rehearsed all these questions and talked about exactly what you need to convey to the judge. It’s important that you follow your lawyer’s lead and answer the questions openly and honestly.
Fourth, the opposing attorney gets to ask you some questions. If you’ve ever watched one episode of any crime/trial television show, you know that this can be the scariest part. Luckily, real life is slightly less adversarial than Law and Order – depending on the opposing attorney. While the opposing attorney will try to make you feel like a dimwit, usually human decency prevails and everyone is civil. There are always a few overly aggressive outliers; however, your attorney should be well-versed on local family law attorneys and should be able to forewarn you about any possible issues.
After all of that, assuming the judge doesn’t have any additional questions for you, you’re done. The judge will thank you and then you can go back to your seat. And that’s it. Take a deep breath. You did it!
We understand that testifying can be frightening. But, with a well prepared, experienced, and diligent family law attorney, you’ll be able to testify fearlessly. Give us a call today and we can walk you through what you need to tell the judge, what opposing counsel might ask, and what the judge might decide. We’ll even give you a complimentary vomit bag to keep in your pocket while you’re on the stand.
… okay… We won’t really give you a vomit bag. But, don’t worry. You’ll be so prepared that you won’t need one.
*Our office accepts Pennsylvania family law cases including divorce, equitable distribution, spousal support, alimony pendente lite, alimony, paternity and child support matters, child custody cases, juvenile law cases, and related matters in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Beaver County, Berks County, Butler County, Clearfield County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County (Greensburg).
Our law firm accepts Pennsylvania family law cases from other Pennsylvania counties including Armstrong County (Kittanning), Clarion County, Fayette County, Greene County, Indiana County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Somerset County, and Venango County.