So You Want to Present Witnesses at Your Hearing…Part 2

Using Witnesses in Court Hearings

Is there another way to present the evidence you want without a witness? Most times, (other than “expert” testimony) the answer is “yes”. Eliminating a witness saves a lot of uncertainty. More times than not, a neighbor or friend who says they will be a witness fails to show up on the day of the Hearing because they are concerned about retaliation from the other side or cannot miss work. Not having a witness means far less coordination to know specifically what that person is going to say (and being certain it is not hearsay) and have that person appear by video or at Court at the designated time.

Most importantly, eliminating the use of a witness eliminates risk.  No matter what someone tells you they will say in Court, you cannot control what may come out. You may be overlooking something the witness knows that will be bad for you if it comes out. You may underestimate the ability of the opposing party or attorney to cross-examine the witness or you may be misinterpreting what the witness told you. The witness may become confused or may be too one-sided rather than testifying to facts observed or experienced. This all dilutes the testimony you thought was in your favor—and actually helps the other side.

Finally, a very common reason to not have a witness at a Hearing is that there will be insufficient time to present your case and present a witness. Especially today, Courts are extremely limited in the time they allow for Hearings. A Temporary Orders Hearing will usually allow 25-30 minutes total per side. That means you will have to testify to everything (incomes of the parties, parenting issues, spousal maintenance needs and child support, maybe who remains in the marital home while the divorce is pending, etc.) yet still leave enough time for cross examination of the other side. It is impossible to do, yet happens every day and is a consequence of going to Court.  A Final Orders Hearing or Motion Hearing will often allow more time per side, but that time is still limited and almost never enough.

In any event, for a family law case, the Court wants to hear from you and the other spouse or parent. You are the most important person to tell the Judge what you want and why you want it. So, the next time you are considering a witness for your divorce or custody case, consider whether you can present enough evidence to make your case without a witness.

Click here to read part 1 of “So You Want to Present Witnesses at Your Hearing…”!

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