How To Handle Returning To Court

If you ever have to go back to court — particularly due to family-related matters — it is imperative to have proper legal representation. Aside from finding a good family law attorney to represent you, there are other considerations to keep in mind for upcoming court dates. Here are a few things you should do and remember for upcoming hearings.

Be Aware of Peripheral People and Entities

During a court proceeding, you may be a plaintiff or a defendant. However, there are cases that involve other entities besides the initial opposing parties. If a case gets to the point where it must go to trial, witnesses for either side may enter the fold.

Family law attorneys and their clients will typically have access to a witness list that provides information about who might testify. In fact, part of the legal procedural process involves filing a particular document informing the court about potential witnesses to the case.

Family law attorneys understand that information exchange procedures are crucial to the legal process and can negatively impact an argument if not properly followed.  Despite what you may have seen on television, courts do not look kindly upon surprise witnesses popping up and taking the stand. In fact, the court has the ability to completely disregard witness testimony under such circumstances.

The ‘Who and Where’ Aspects of Witnesses

Individuals and entities that can qualify as witnesses for a family law case can range anywhere between you and government agencies. While you may be able to speak on your own behalf and serve as your own witness, courts are also apt to hear testimony from pertinent individuals that have the concerned child’s interest in mind. The court may have appointed a guardian ad litem to the case so that a third, neutral party can speak toward the child’s best interest. If a child protection agency is involved in the case, the court will probably expect to hear that assessment. If your attorney believes that testimony from either would be beneficial to your legal argument, you may be advised to strongly consider both as supportive witnesses for your position in the case.

While court-appointed professionals and child advocacy agencies often have considerable weight toward how courts assess a legal case, other entities and individuals are able to provide powerful statements on behalf of a child, too. One of the most sought-after groups of witnesses are the people that have seen situations firsthand — relatives. Anyone related to the child that can positively attest to your parenting skills and subsequent interactions can be beneficial to your case.

Potential witnesses from your child’s day care or classroom that will vouch for you are also capable witnesses in the eyes of the court. While court officials will take into account that personal relationships may be biased, if the testimony is aptly credible it may very well act in your favor during a trial.

How to Keep Your Witnesses Comfortably Compliant

Being a witness in a child-custody related court case can pose a lot of pressure — especially when potential witnesses must drop everything in their own lives to support your paternal position. To avoid this complication, sow the seeds early for a transparent relationship about your legal intentions. However, make sure these individuals are on your side and have seen your parental value for themselves.

Send each intended witness the court date and try to ensure the notice is sent with ample amounts of time. If you know that you will need an individual’s or agency’s testimony to support your case three months before the trial begins, send the notice right then and there. Although you may have children to keep access to, or gain custody of, your potential witnesses still have lives. Be an accommodating person and give each enough notice to make sure they show up to support your cause.

Any potential witness with testimony that is vital to your case should be served with a subpoena. Subpoenas are documents that make a person or entity’s court appearance mandatory. Individuals or entities that are squarely in your corner on the case will probably make a concerted effort to show up for the trial. However, a subpoena ensures that the appearance actually happens. Anyone that is served with a subpoena that does not show up to court can face legal penalties, such as contempt charges and even warrants for arrest.

Competent Florida attorneys will know the paperwork flow and legal process about which documents to file for the court’s compliance and an optimal legal outcome. If you have adequate legal representation, paperwork related to the case will probably already be prepared.

Court Courtesy and Decorum

Witnesses willing to testify on your behalf  should be ready to take the stand at any time after the scheduled time of the court date. In fact, you should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the hearing date because the court may assume it is disrespectful otherwise. You want to curry the court’s favor, so try not to discourage its confidence in your legal position.

Clear your schedule and dedicate your court date toward the case. Courts may run over schedule. Conversely, if someone does not appear for a scheduled court date and you are called earlier than expected, you should be prepared for that, as well. If possible, leave children at home, school or child care and go to court with supportive family and friends instead. Make sure to stand up when the judge enters the courtroom or chambers and refer to the ruling authority as "sir", "ma’am" or "your honor".

If you have any questions about returning to court and are trying to sort through family law attorneys that you can trust to give answers, get in touch with us.

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