10 Tips To Surviving Divorce Cross-Examination

More than likely if your contested divorce case proceeds to trial you will testify in support of your case but will also be cross-examined. The topics may include child custody, parenting schedules, child support and spousal support, income, if unemployed work ability and job search, marital and separate assets both as to value and their division and debt allocation. There may also be issues of alcohol, drug use and domestic violence. As you can see there really are many possible topics and therefore this blog will not be about any particular topic rather it is about things to do and not do during cross-examination.

1. Listen to the question and answer if you understand. If you don't understand ask to have the question made clearer. (Of course do not do this excessively.)

2. Pause for a moment before answering in case your lawyer is making an objection as well as to take a moment to consider your answer.

3. If the lawyer asking you questions is doing cross-exam properly your questions will only call for a "yes" or "no" answer. If you try to explain you might not be permitted. If the lawyer asks you "how" or "why" questions feel free to explain.

4. If you need to explain you can ask the judge if you can give a more complete answer. If the judge says no, your lawyer may ask you after cross-exam on "re-direct" so that you can clarify.

5. Do not argue with the lawyer who is doing their job. Do not let the lawyer get under your skin. You can still be polite while saying "No", "never", or "absolutely not".

6. Do not guess. Answer what you know.

7. If you need to see a document you can consider asking to see the item (such as a tax return or email).

8. Do not try and be evasive and play word games as the judge will spot it and so will the attorney. It is always amazing how people answer their own lawyers questions smoothly and on cross-exam all of a sudden have no recollection and try and split hairs on every question.

9. You know in advance your weak spots so talk to your lawyer in advance to get guidance how to answer questions in that area.

10. Be truthful and do not lie and make up answers. Maintaining your credibility with the judge is critical. If you lie and get caught the judge may disbelieve many other things that you said because of lack of trust.