Preparing for family court can be emotionally draining. Unlike any other court proceeding, a divorce, child custody battle, or paternity hearing can be especially grueling—even for the attorneys who are representing the parties. AWR frequently help attorneys build amazing presentations and prepare for trial. To make your next family court trial go more smoothly, here are some key tips to remember.
Emotional Detachment is Paramount
It’s one thing to passionately represent and zealously advocate for a client. It’s another thing to allow passions to consume you. Over the course of months or years, an attorney can become very involved in their client’s case. It is easy to get emotionally invested. But one very important key to family law is keeping emotional distance so that you can clearly see the issues and argue for your client.
Understand the Issues
A trial is always complex, but a family court trial often involves a lot of he said-she said arguments, petty differences, and disputes about things that may have very little bearing on the overall outcome of the case. Make a quick list of key legal and factual issues that have the potential to make a difference. Common examples may be:
- Current and potential income for each party
- List of criminal convictions or domestic violence evidence
- A witness list
- A list of documentary evidence, including video or photo evidence
- Potentially damaging evidence
- Dates, deadlines, and important court orders from earlier in the case
Study the Rules of Evidence
Depending on your state, make sure you understand the local court rules and the state’s rules of evidence in your jurisdiction. If you expect challenges to any of the evidence or testimony you intend to introduce, study up on those particular rules, and make a small list of rules and case law that support admission. This can come in handy if opposing counsel attempts to get evidence excluded.
You’ve Prepared, Now Prepare Your Client
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for the case is prepare your client. Do not skimp on time when it comes to getting your client ready for trial. You should address concerns, calm fears, and explain the practical realities of what to expect. Most importantly, try your best to cover the following:
- How to dress
- How to answer questions
- How to respond to questions from an opposing attorney
- What not to say at trial
Prepare Visual Demonstrative Evidence in Advance
One of the best things you can do to really wow a jury (or even a judge) is to work closely with a litigation support company and build great visual demonstrations. Even in a family court case, a storyboard or timeline presentation can be a powerful piece of demonstrative evidence for helping to prove arguments. You should also work to keep your documents in a secure and easy-to-access resource.
To get help with your trial presentations or to schedule a court reporter, contact AWR today.