Court Appearances and Depositions in Your Tennessee Divorce Case
Advice regarding your Tennessee divorce case for court appearances and depositions: how to dress, listen to questions, stay calm, be polite, and tell your lawyer in advance if you have a problem.
In Tennessee divorce cases, court appearances and depositions make most clients very nervous. It is o.k. to be nervous. Your lawyer can work with you to make sure everything is all right. You will not be judged on your performance. You will not be judged on how fast or cleverly you speak. You will be judged on your credibility. So tell the truth. Telling the truth is easy. Some basic tips will be discussed here that apply to both depositions and court appearances. The most important tips will be reserved for your preparation meeting with your lawyer. In that meeting, you will learn everything else you need to know.
Dress professionally and as if you are going to church in your Tennessee divorce
If you have questions about what clothes to wear, wear clothes which you are considering wearing for court appearances to your lawyer’s office. Men should always wear a tie and no jewelry, other than a watch or one simple ring. Women should wear as little makeup as possible and very little jewelry. Never wear tennis shoes, tee-shirt, shorts, sexually suggestive attire, or any jewelry or pendants that make political or religious statements. Prepare for court by reviewing important documents the night or morning before court.
Always say: “Yes, sir,” or “No, ma’am,” to the judge. Judges and chancellors should be addressed as “Your Honor.” Never argue with anyone. That is what you pay your lawyer to do. Do not tell jokes or say anything sarcastic. If you think that you have given an incorrect answer, at any time you can ask the court to allow you to go back to a prior question so that you can correct your testimony.
Listen carefully to every question
Pause before answering any question in court or deposition, making sure you understand the question. Think, and then be direct with your answer. Answer only the question asked of you, and then stop talking. Do not add any commentary. One of the oldest (and most effective) techniques is, once you’ve given your answer, the lawyer looks at you as if to say: “Keep talking.” Do not fall into this trap. Just look back at him calmly and politely as if to say: “I am waiting on you to ask another question.”
Another old tactic is for a lawyer to ask you if you have discussed your testimony with your lawyer. This is asked in a manner calculated to imply that you have been coached or have been told what to say. The correct response is to say: “Yes.” If asked what you were told to say, your response can only be: “The truth.”
If you do not understand a question, ask for the question to be repeated
Lawyers often ask confusing questions. Sometimes, the questions are not even intended to be confusing. When in court, speak to the judge. If you think you are speaking too fast, stop, pause for a second or two, slow down, then finish your answer. You are not in a conversation. The regular rules of human interaction do not apply. Do not look at your lawyer before you answer questions. Others may perceive that you are looking to be told what to say.
Be sure to tell your lawyer if you think you might have a problem
For example, if you think you might get angry, your lawyer can work with you and give you some good techniques to avoid problems. If you lose your temper, you may lose your case. Never begin answers with the phrases: “To the best of my recollection,” or “I do not recall.” Most people will think of President Clinton. Simply say, “I don’t know.”
At the end of Tennessee divorce cases which are settled, one party will go to court to receive the divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences
Most of the time this is a very simple legal process. In Tennessee, one attorney will prepare a series of documents including the Final Decree of Divorce. Once the case is called, the divorcing spouse is called to the witness stand, and the lawyer will ask very simple questions. The Tennessee judge may ask a few questions and inquire about certain aspects of the divorce or the paperwork. Either that day or soon thereafter, the judge will sign the Final Decree of Divorce. Thirty days later, if there is no appeal, the case is over.