Court. The most anxious, stress-filled, loss of control decision a person can make. Even with careful preparation it can be unpleasant. Without preparation it can be a nightmare!
So what should you not do in Court?
- Don’t argue with the Judge. Even if the Judge is “wrong,” “mistaken,” or “backwards.” Leave the arguing to the attorney.
- Don’t argue with your attorney. Short of catastrophic representation meltdown listen and heed your attorney’s advice.
- Don’t argue with the other attorney. Just answer the questions asked, explaining if necessary. Personal jabs, smart-alleck responses and witty banter are not needed.
So that’s what you should not do, but what should you NEVER do?
- Never give sassy responses to the Judge. This is different from arguing. Oftentimes the Judge will have questions for the witnesses. The responses and the manner given matter. For instance, in a hearing where both parents sought custody and child support, the father said that he did “NOT need ANY child support nor ANY money to care for HIS kids…” But, he then objected to having to pay any child support as he had limited income. The Court made note of his inconsistency.
- Never criticize the other parent for conduct that you also do. On another occasion a parent was being especially critical of the other for “leaving” the children at day care all day and not picking them up until the “last-minute,” around 5:30. Well, this parent had also just testified they were self-employed and could get the children at any time, because his schedule was so flexible, but did not. This irked the Judge.
- Never lie. (PERJURY) You will get caught. The truth is easy to remember. Remember, usually, it’s not the crime but the cover-up that gets you. The very affluent husband, with a great job, testified that he was unsure of his income, but knew his expenses down to the penny. He testified under oath that his expenses exceeded his income by over $10,000 per month. The problem? He had no debt. This situation of making $10,000 less than he was spending had been going on for months, if not years, but he always made payroll, carried no debt, had no loans and could not explain how this could be. Perhaps he had a money tree out back. The Judge imputed income and based his obligations on what he stated his expenses were and what apparently his income was.
Matthew Thompson is an Adjunct Professor- Domestic Relations at MC Law and a Family Law Lawyer. Don’t do these things in Court if you know what’s good for you!