Going through a divorce is never easy. Calling witnesses to testify during legal proceedings requires careful thought and planning on your part and on the part of your attorney. Here are four things to keep in mind if you are going to ask witnesses to testify on your behalf during a divorce trial.
1. Testimony May Be Extensive
Witnesses may be expected to participate in various types of testimony on behalf of the spouse they are supporting. There may be a deposition, which is a lengthy question-and-answer meeting with the other spouse’s attorney. A video deposition is sometimes acceptable if the witness is unable to appear in person. A witness statement may be required with a notarized signature.
If the divorce proceeds to trial, the witness might need to make an appearance in court. Witnesses should be prepared to undertake these and possibly other activities. Make sure your potential witnesses know what they are getting into and what the time commitment could be.
2. Witnesses Must Be Credible
Lawyers and court officials often expect witnesses to meet a certain standard of credibility. Although anyone theoretically can testify, those with good records of conduct and stability are often preferred when possible. If you have a choice of witnesses, ask someone who is reliable and trustworthy.
Each witness should be able to provide consistent statements supported by evidence if it’s available. Avoid asking someone to be a witness who has been a friend to both you and your spouse, as the person’s loyalty may not allow him or her to testify, or the testimony could be weakened as a result.
3. Testimony Will Be Challenged
Depending on the type of issues that are brought forward during a divorce, specialists may be called in by opposing counsel to question or weaken a witness statement. Experts like forensic psychiatrists could be asked to evaluate someone’s testimony or vouch for the other spouse after evaluating that person’s behavior and mindset.
Witnesses for the other spouse are likely to either contradict the witnesses you plan to call, or they might offer supportive testimony to the other spouse. The arbiter or a judge will then have to decide who is more believable and who carries more clout in the case.
4. Professional Experts Charge Fees
If you decide to hire expert witnesses, they charge a fee that can run into thousands of dollars, depending on the amount of preparation that is required. Their time may be billed for appearances and official testimony statements. Find out in advance how much you will have to pay, as fees vary considerably. Your attorney can help with this process. Keep in mind that the fees will often be worth it to get this kind of high quality, indisputable testimonial evidence in your divorce case.
Witnesses can help to strengthen a divorce case. However, you need to keep the above tips in mind when you think about asking for witness support during a divorce proceeding. Your attorney can help you to decide the best course of action to take for your particular case.
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