It can be nerve wracking speaking in court. The Judge will want to hear from you and will listen carefully to what you have to say. It can really help to practise what you are going to say so that it is easier to make your point rather than talking about things that aren’t so important for the case. The Judge may stop you and refocus you if you talk about things that they don’t think are relevant. Try to be patient and calm.
If you are worried that you will be too frightened or too scared to speak openly in front of the other person then you should ask whether it is possible to give evidence from behind a screen or via a video-link. More courts are making video link technology available so it is worth asking if it can be used to help you. Call the courts well before your hearing date to talk to them about this.
Here are some tips for speaking in court:
- It is best to refer to a Circuit Judge as ‘Your Honour’, and a District Judge or Magistrate as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’. If in doubt, ask how they would like to be referred to.
- Try to remain calm, speak clearly.
- Speak in the way you would normally, slowly and clearly.
- Put your points to the Judge rather than to the other party.
- It’s best not to try to use legal jargon or language that is not familiar as this may confuse your points.
- Try to answer the questions as clearly and as quickly as you can, stick to the point and stay focused on what is best for your child and your safety.
- If you do not understand a question or a point you can ask for it to be explained again.
- There may be periods of silence while notes are taken, and people gather their thoughts.
- Allow time for the Judge to write their notes.
- If you want to speak, raise your hand, don’t interrupt.