If you or I answered questions in Court like any politician we might be held in contempt.
In Court, witnesses must answer the question asked. Usually the answer will be “yes” or “no,” and then an explanation may be offered if necessary. This can be very difficult to do and it takes practice to get this right.
Not answering the question with a “yes” or “no,” and not answering what was asked may result in the Court concluding you are being deceptive. This is not an impression you want to create.
As a witness, however, you only want to answer the question asked. Do not answer what is not asked and do not offer more than what is asked. The best example I can think of is when a party was asked if they had committed an affair with “Mary” since the separation.
The answer, “I have not committed an affair with ‘Mary’…since the separation.” There was an awkward pause. The awkward pause resulted in the follow-up question of when did you commit your affair with Mary. The party told on himself by not just saying “No” which would have been a completely truthful answer to the question asked.
Matthew Thompson is a Family Law attorney and warns witnesses to answer “yes” or “no,” explain if necessary, and sometimes less is more.