Testimony in Divorce Cases: Don’t Monologue

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If you have children, you’ve probably seen The Incredibles. I’ve seen it a MILLION times. One of my favorite scenes is the one in which Syndrome, who has Mr. Incredible in a seemingly inescapable situation, realizes that he is monologuing. Of course, monologuing is a common theme in all sorts of hero/villain¬†movies. The hero is commonly at the brink of destruction, while the villain pauses to reflect on his impending victory, just long enough to allow the hero to escape or be rescued, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

I see it all the time, especially in divorce cases. One side or the other senses that they have the moral or factual high ground in the case, they close in on what victory is there to be had, and then they go under oath, either in a deposition, or at trial, and they get diarrhea of the mouth.

It’s not pretty. They do fine under direct examination of their attorney, but then the other side gets to cross-examine them. They get open-ended questions, and the opposing attorney encourages them to keep talking. Even though I’ve prepped the client and told them to simply answer the question and shut up, they can’t resist.

My favorite example is from a young father who was on the stand. Under direct examination from his attorney, he said something that caught my attention about giving up marijuana use. My client had failed a drug test, and he was being quite smug about his moral superiority. My cross-examination went something like this:

“So, Mr. X, you say you gave up smoking marijuana¬†because that was not good for your children, correct?

Yes.

You say the last date you smoked marijuana was on December 31, 2015, correct?

Yes.

Isn’t that the date you absconded with your two young girls to another county to move them in with the woman you had just met on plentyoffish.com and her children?

Yes.

So, you smoked marijuana and took off with your children on the same day?

No.

How is that?

I smoked marijuana in the morning. I didn’t leave with the girls until that night.”

Here’s a good read on tips for testifying:

http://www.weinmanfamilylaw.com/Articles/Tips-to-Testify-Successfully-Guidelines-for-Witnesses.shtml

Finally, if you find yourself in a divorce, don’t go it alone. Call me at (251)445-0891, or email me at ron@mcbaylaw.com. I’ll help you put your best foot forward.