Testimony in a Custody Dispute: How to Answer the Tough Questions - Charlotte NC Family Law & Divorce Blog | Hatcher Law Group

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Testimony in a Custody Dispute: How to Answer the Tough Questions

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Testimony in a Custody Dispute: How to Answer the Tough Questions

Christine Melvin | Charlotte, N.C. Family Law Attorney

You may think the potential outcome of your custody case is obvious and you are clearly the winner.  If all cases were like that, we would not have family law attorneys.  I would not have this job and there would certainly be no need to write this blog. Ultimately, no one is perfect; and, that includes parents in a custody dispute.

If the opposing counsel has done their due diligence, he or she will have a few "wins" during your cross examination. Opposing counsel will likely ask some questions that may cast you in a negative light or are spun in such a way to make you feel embarrassed about a choice you made in the past. As lawyers, it is our job to minimize our client’s mistakes and maximize the mistakes of the opposing party. If you have a good attorney, he or she will have prepared you for how to answer questions about any past mistakes.   

When you are asked those types of questions, here is my best advice: 

  • Be honest.
  • Take ownership of any mistakes.
  • Answer the question as briefly as possible. Do not offer any information that is not specifically asked for in the question. 
  • Wait quietly for the next question. 

I see clients struggle most with "waiting quietly." If you offer too much explanation, it sounds like you are trying to justify a mistake. The judge will recognize if you are providing an answer while also trying to bring up something negative about the other person. When you finish your straightforward and concise response, relish in the silence as the opposing counsel fumbles for another question. 

If you have questions about your family law matter, contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Christine Melvin focuses her practice exclusively on family law matters, including separation and divorce, child custody and support and property distribution.


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