It is normal to feel nervous as you are preparing to give evidence in your family law matter. Giving evidence at Court is daunting for even the most experienced experts and witnesses.
We have observed many people give their evidence at Court at interim and final hearings including our clients, their family members, Court appointed experts, and third party specialists. Most of the people that have provided evidence successfully in their cases have known their evidence, listened and answered the questions asked honestly, appropriately and calmly.
To assist you in your preparation for giving evidence, we have compiled our five top tips as follows:
1. Know your evidence. Make sure you feel comfortable with the evidence that you have sworn in your Affidavit. If you do not have a copy of your Affidavit, ask your solicitors for one so that you may read over it before you go to Court. If you become aware that there is an error in your Affidavit, or you forgot to include details, it is important that you let your legal team know before you provide you evidence to the Court. We will then be able to rectify the error.
2. Listen carefully. You will be nervous in the witness box. This is natural. Take your time to listen to the question you are being asked. If you missed it or did not understand the question, do not be afraid to ask for the question to be repeated or state that you do not understand the question so it may be rephrased.
3. Focus on answering the question you have been asked. Don’t try and guess what the other side are wanting to find out or where they are trying to go with their questioning. You can answer the questions as directly and briefly as required particularly if it is a closed question and you can answer with a simple “yes” or “no”. Provide explanation for an answer where appropriate.
4. Provide true and correct evidence. When answering a question, do not be afraid to answer honestly, even if you are concerned that it may be perceived to go against you in the case. Honest answers make you a credible witness and should you falsely answer a question, and then were found out later in the questioning to have provided false information, it will damage your credibility and will not be perceived favourably by the Judge.
5. Be calm, polite and respectful. You will be questioned on your life story and it will be emotional. Should you need to take a moment to compose yourself, take it! Remain respectful to the barrister, lawyer or Judge asking you the question even if you feel that they are trying to provoke a reaction from you, as they probably are. Addressing everyone in the Courtroom calmly and respectfully, as best you can, will allow your evidence to resonate and be the focus of the questioning.
We hope that our tips have assisted you in preparing to give your evidence at Court. Should you have any further questions or require assistance in your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office on 03 9670 5711.