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Ten Tips For Testifying at Trial

Quick Guide for Testifying in Court 

Testifying at trial can be a daunting experience, but with proper preparation and a calm demeanor, you can effectively present your case and contribute to a favorable outcome. In this article, we will provide you with ten invaluable tips to help you navigate the trial process confidently and with poise. Whether you’re a petitioner, respondent, or witness, these tips will empower you to present your testimony effectively and maximize your chances of success.

  1. Prepare Ahead of Time
  2. Dress for Success
  3. Take a Deep Breath
  4. Listen to the Question Asked
  5. Take Your Time
  6. Answer ONLY the Question Asked
  7. Tell the Truth
  8. Don’t be Argumentative
  9. Listen to the Judge or Attorney
  10. Relax

Tips For Testifying in a Texas Family Court

1. Prepare Ahead of Time: If you have an attorney, you should meet with them prior to trial to discuss what topics will be addressed during testimony and the attorney should give you tips or provide you with materials that will help you prepare for testifying. Many times, in a family law case, testimony revolves around specific events and dates. It can be helpful to create a timeline of these events and times to review prior to testifying so you can clearly remember these facts.

2. Dress for Success: Your appearance can affect how the judge or jury perceives you and your testimony. It is important that you dress conservatively. It doesn’t necessarily need to be your Sunday best but you do need to avoid sleeveless tops, shorts, shirts with inappropriate messages on them, tight or revealing clothing, and open toe shoes. Don’t wear anything that could offend the judge or make them think less of you as a parent or person. Also keep in mind it may come across as ostentatious or tacky if you’re wearing all brand names so keep the Chanel purses and flashy jewelry at home. Wear something comfortable as well, you don’t want to be shifting and fidgeting during testimony because you can’t breathe in your outfit.

3. Take a Deep Breath: Breathe. It’s understandable that testifying on the stand and under oath is a scary prospect but it’s going to be okay.  Speak slowly. Enunciate your words. What you are saying on the stand could very well affect the outcome of the case. Make sure you speak loudly and clearly. It’s okay to show emotion but try to speak as clearly and calmly as possible. You want to make sure everyone can clearly hear what you are saying. You’re not on a timer, take the time to gather your thoughts and make sure you say what you want to say.

4. Listen to the Question Asked: You may be asked hundreds of questions while you’re on the stand testifying and often many of the questions may seem very similar and you just want to repeat the previous answer. Or you may think you know what the attorney is going to ask and go ahead and answer before they finish the question. Do not do this. Make sure you listen very carefully to the question that was asked, take the time to digest the question and make sure you answer addresses the specific question asked. You don’t want to get tripped up by the opposing counsel or say something that was not even relevant to the case.

5. Take Your Time: Many people start speaking at high rates of speed when they get nervous. This is a normal human reaction. However, you want to make sure the judge, jury, court reporter, and attorneys all understand what you are saying. So take a deep breath and slowly respond. Speaking slowly and calmly will also help to formulate the best answer possible.

6. Answer ONLY the Question Asked: Don’t elaborate. Don’t answer a question that wasn’t specifically asked. You will get your chance to tell your full story, just take everything one step at a time. Your attorney will ask you specific questions to paint a full picture of your side so don’t spill everything at once. And you don’t want to start oversharing when the other side is asking you questions. Answer only the question asked with short and sweet sentences.

7. Tell the Truth: This should be an automatic but sometimes people forget they are under oath or attempt to try and stretch the truth.

8. Don’t be Argumentative: You’re trying to impress the finder of fact so that they will find in your favor. Answering the opposing side’s questions can be frustrating or you may not believe your side is being adequately portrayed. But you need to stay calm and know the don’ts.

    • Don’t try to talk over the attorney.
    • Don’t interrupt either an attorney or a judge when they are speaking.
    • Don’t get an attitude on the stand.

9. Listen to the Judge or Attorney: An attorney may make what is called an objection, which could cause the question asked to be reworded or set aside. A judge may ask you to stop talking or not to answer a specific question. Make sure you are actually listening to prevent yourself from speaking out of turn.

10. Relax: Of course, you’re going to be nervous during testimony. It’s natural. However, body language can be as important as verbal statements. Don’t pick at your nails or fidget, it could come across as lying. Don’t cross your arms or have an aggressive look on your face, you want to come across as honest and sympathetic.


Before responding briefly, pause to opposing counsel’s question to allow your attorney time to object should one be required. Here is a quick way to remember “P.A.U.S.E.: Promptly Allow Uninterrupted Silence, Evaluate.”

P.A.U.S.E. stands for Promptly Allow Uninterrupted Silence, Evaluate. This fun and easy-to-remember acronym reminds individuals to pause before answering any question during a trial or testimony. This momentary pause can help ensure your answers are accurate, relevant, and aligned with your case. By pausing, you allow your attorney time to object, and it also provides you time to carefully evaluate the call of the question before responding. So remember to P.A.U.S.E. and make the most of each question asked during your testimony.

With the proper preparation and mindset, you can navigate testifying at trial successfully. Follow the ten tips provided to enhance your testimony and improve your chances of a favorable outcome. Remember to prepare ahead of time, dress appropriately, P.A.U.S.E. and stay calm. Listen carefully, take your time in responding, and answer ONLY what is asked. Always prioritize honesty and follow instructions from the judge or attorneys.

For professional legal support in your family law case, contact Ramos Law Group, PLLC today, at 713-225-6200. Our experienced team is dedicated to helping you confidently navigate family law litigation and achieve the best possible outcome. Your success is our priority!

Last Updated on August 8, 2023 by Mary E. Ramos

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Mary E. Ramos

Mary E. Ramos is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is recognized and respected throughout the Houston legal community for dedication in effectively representing clients’ rights and interests. Mary understands the emotional side of divorce and brings a special compassion to each and every case.

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