Choose Witnesses Wisely in Child Custody or Divorce Case

trial preparation May 01, 2017

You’re probably going to have more than one witness who could come to court & testify on your behalf but just because you have one witness or ten witnesses doesn't mean that all of those witnesses need to testify. You have to talk to the people who could potentially have something to say on your behalf & figure out whether they’d really be a good witness.

One of the things you should base your decision on is the credibility of witnesses. Although witness may have something good to say about you, that person may be terrible on the stand. They may be nervous or clam up. You have to figure that in deciding how to present the best case you can to the judge.

I just had an experience recently & it was in a different type of case. It was a criminal case & many moons ago I practiced criminal law. I was a prosecutor for a few years & after I quit the prosecutor's office I went on ended criminal defense work & I defended all types of cases from speeding tickets & possessions of marijuana possession of marijuana cases all the way to murder cases.

One of my family law clients who's going through a divorce actually had criminal charges that were filed against him by his soon-to-be ex-wife & he asked me to defend him since I have experience in this area. One of the charges against him was a really serious charge it was she had said that he had threatened to kill her, stab her, all these horrible things. The other charge the less serious charge was a disturbing the peace charge. At trial the victim & her daughter testified against my client & & their testimony was just horrible.

They were all over the place, they were inconsistent they couldn't remember things or were remembering things differently than they had reported them to the police officers. While my client’s wife was testifying, her family was at the back of the courtroom instructing her on what to say by nodding or shaking their head.
& actually it was the judge that noticed this & brought this to the attorneys attention & wasn't happy about it so the judge kicked the family out of the courtroom as the wife is on the st& testifying. I believe that it affected the judges perception of the wife's credibility in the long run.

So by the time the state had finished presenting it’s case I think the witnesses have done a fantastic job for my client in terms of making a mess out of the case. I had planned on having my client the defendant testify & we had prepared well. However, in criminal cases it's the state's burden to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt & when the state finished its case I didn't think they had done that, so my client is faced with the big decision about whether or not he should testify. It was my advice to him that I didn't think that he needed to testify & the judge found him not guilty on the serious charge of threatening & intimidating to kill but the judge did find that my client had disturbed the peace but the sentence was minimum.

All in all it was a good result. It got me thinking about witnesses in your case, however I'm not suggesting that you don't testify because you do have your side of the story to tell if you're one of the parties in your custody or divorce case. So in a family law case I don't think either party not testifying is really an option but what you do have options about is the other witnesses who might testify for you. While they have good stuff to say about you they may not be good witnesses or they may not add anything to what you have to say so really consider very carefully who you're going to want to testify.