We decided you’d perhaps like to have some more practical advice… and the best way to do that is to give you examples of flame-outs we have seen (or assisted) in court.
This occurred while I was sitting in the courtroom with my own client. A man had called his ex-wife into court; he alleged that his 16-year-old daughter has developed a drinking problem while living with Mom. When the Judge asked Mom what she had to say, she responded:
“My daughter doesn’t have a drinking problem. She just drinks to feel better after she’s been at her dad’s. There’s no alcohol there.”
Yep. Dad got sole physical custody.
This involved an attorney from our firm. We had obtained a temporary restraining order against our client’s soon-to-be ex-husband, and we were at an evidentiary hearing seeking a permanent restraining order. Follow along:
Attorney: “Your Honor, he jumped on the hood of her car right before he was served with the temporary restraining order.”
Him [interrupting]: “Nunh-unh! Your Honor, I did that AFTER she served me with the restraining order!”
Attorney: “And why did you jump on her car?”
Him: “I wanted to stop her from leaving.”
Yep. We got the permanent restraining order, and he was later convicted for violating the temporary restraining order.
Another fine example of what not to say, overheard in family court in our fine county. The self-represented Dad was trying not to lose custody of his children.
Dad: “No, sir, I didn’t take the kids in the bar. They’re too little! I’d NEVER do that!”
The Court: “So where were the children while you were in the bar for two hours?”
Dad: “I left them in the car! I’d never take them in a bar!”
Yep. You guessed it. No more unsupervised custodial time for Dad.
Last one for today. This occurred years ago, and was actually observed in a courtroom. Husband had accused Wife of having stolen various assets (quite expensive!) including all of his jewelry, right down to his watch.
Attorney: “Did you say Wife took all of your jewelry?”
Attorney: “Did she take your watch?”
Husband: “All of my watches.”
Attorney: “And you never got any of that back?”
Husband: “No, and I asked and asked her to give it back.”
Attorney: “I notice you’re wearing a pretty nice watch right there.”
Husband shakes it out, smiles: “Yes, this is my favorite.”
Attorney: “How long have you had it?”
Husband: “My dad gave it to me when I graduated college.” [He was at least 50 years old].
Yep. Husband was not only charged for all of the assets he claimed Wife had taken – he had to pay for a hefty chunk of her attorneys’ fees, as well.
And the moral is: Think before you speak. Especially in court.