Are Character Witnesses Helpful In A Divorce?

Many of my clients will ask me if it helps to have a character witness in their divorce case. Here is some information that will help answer that question.

A character witness is a person who attests to another’s moral character, conduct and reputation in a court of law. Typically, character witnesses are used in criminal cases to verify the positive traits of the defendant.

However, in divorce cases character witnesses usually do not have that much of an effect. This is because in a criminal case, the effect of a character witness is to help to lessen a criminal punishment. In a divorce case, the Court is not weighing whether or not it should impose a harsh sentence, but, is weighing who should receive custody of a child. Furthermore, in a divorce case, both parents will be able to bring in character witnesses who will state that each parent is a “good parent.” Finally, the Court will realize that your character witness is most likely a family member or a close friend and will discount their testimony.

However, if the character witness can testify to events that they have actually seen (or perhaps heard) which reflects negatively on your spouse and/or positively on you, then the character witness may have more of an impact. Here, the character witness is not just stating that you are a good parent, but, they are testifying that they have seen you exhibit positive behavior or they have seen your spouse exhibit negative behavior.

Instead of using a relative or a close friend as a character witness, it may be better to call a teacher, one of the children’s coaches, or any neutral adult that can testify about what they have actually witnessed. These types of third-parties are viewed as more persuasive witnesses.
It is important to note that a character witness may backfire on you. Your spouse’s attorney is sure to cross-examine the witness and if the witness testifies to anything that may be viewed as negative to your case, that could weaken the witness’s testimony.

Another reason why a character witness may not be helpful, is that they may be a reluctant witness. You should also know that many times, a character witness, will not want to be bothered to having to come to court to testify.

When you are getting divorce, it is important to hire an attorney who knows what witnesses to call. David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. have extensive trial experience and can help you in your divorce.

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