While most domestic cases resolve before trial, those that are tried generally involve unique legal issues, or more commonly, extremely contentious issues such as child custody, amount of parenting time or child support (the two are linked), or serious issues about valuation of assets. Indiana judges get a “hot record”, meaning they are given great deference in judging the witness’s credibility. This blog covers four ways to “torpedo” your case by being a witness that lacks credibility.
The first is quite common—denying undeniable facts. For instance, in a long-term relationship that involves drug use, even “recreational” (illegal) marijuana, it is generally not credible for one parent to accuse the other parent and take the position he or she has never used this or other drugs. The bonds and intimacy of marriage, barring some strong and coherent position by a party, makes this not believable. If the judge determines this, it begs the question of what else the witness is not accurately testifying about or grossly distorting or simply lying. No matter how detrimental, untruthful testimony is almost always more harm than honest but unfavorable testimony.
The second is also extraordinarily common—making the other parent a villain. This frequently occurs in child custody litigation. It takes the form of one party testifying repeatedly about the bad actor the other person is and why he or she should not be awarded custody. There is a obscure legal concept that 1s do not marry 10s, which means generally people with shared views marry and have children and both have made mistakes in parenting. This position is most always harmful in contested child custody litigation.
A closely related third way to “torpedo” your case is to take an unreasonable position on every matter before the court. This generally indicates the other parent is much more suited to being given merit to his or her positions and the person being unreasonable is focusing on causing emotional harm in the court room, not seriously litigating his or her case.
Finally, be yourself. For instance, in contested custody litigation where there is psychological testing, it often shows one parent is answering questions to present themselves in a more positive light as the custodial parent than reality would bear out. This is magnified in court proceedings and creates a “fake” persona a seasoned Indiana judge will easily realize. This may result in diminishing otherwise strong evidence.
These are observations Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys have observed through thousands of trials. Generally, they should be avoided to maximize the chances of meeting your legal objective (goal). This blog is written by Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. counsel who handles contested divorce and paternity cases and post decree litigation throughout Indiana. This blog is written for general educational purposes and is not intended as a solicitation for legal services, nor is it legal advice. It is a form of advertising.