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Do's and Don'ts When You're in Court

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Ten Common Mistakes You Must Not Make

The following points might seem obvious in the calm of your living room reading this book, but under the stress of the trial, for your sake, they must be subjected to memory.

  • Do not make faces, ever. If your wife lies like a rug, do not roll your eyes or shake your head (unless your attorney says it's okay). No matter how much you want to, a judge or jury might think you're being childish or that you're faking your reaction.
  • Do not speak out in court. We know an attorney who represented the father during a custody hearing. While the lawyer was at the podium questioning the mother, her client began yelling at his wife to stop lying! When the case was over, the judge ordered the husband to attend an anger workshop. Needless to say, he did not win custody.
  • Follow your attorney's instincts. This is a tough one if you've been very involved in planning the strategy of your case and now your lawyer wants to do something you think is wrong. When you're at trial, it's not a good time for the camp to be divided. If you feel very strongly, and there's a sound basis to your thinking, present your idea to your attorney. However, unless you are also an attorney, or you are very certain you are right (which might be based on your knowledge of your spouse), do not give your attorney ultimatums.
  • Do not flirt with, excessively smile at, or in any way try to engage the judge or a juror.
  • If your trial is by jury, never speak to a juror while the trial is in progress.
  • Do not argue with your spouse's lawyer. If you're too angry to speak, wait or take a sip of water before continuing to testify.
  • Avoid sarcasm.
  • Avoid crossing your arms while you're on the witness stand.
  • Don't doodle. The judge or jurors might notice, and it will look as though you just don't care.
  • Don't talk to your spouse in court without good reason (scheduling the children, for example). Usually, there's just too much emotion for communication.


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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Surviving Divorce © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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