- Can you bring your children with you to court?
- What should you wear?
- Will lawyers scream at witnesses like they do on TV?
- Will you get a chance to tell your side of the story?
It is normal to have questions. This article will ease your mind by answering five frequently asked questions about Texas Family Jury Trials.
FAQ #1: “What Should I Wear on the Day of Trial?”
Answer: Since you will be in front of a jury, it is important that you dress in a way that gives you a fair shot at winning your case. Let’s be honest, people are judgmental. Oftentimes it isn’t even intentional, but it happens. This is why you often hear about how important first impressions are. If you visited a doctor for the first time for example, and he showed up wearing shorts and flip flops, you may wonder if he takes his profession seriously. On the day of trial, you should dress professionally. No shorts. No flip flops. Leave your hat in your car.
Dress like you are going to a job interview for a management or administrative position. If you would not feel comfortable wearing it to church or in front of your grandparents, it is likely inappropriate for court. If you have tattoos that can be covered, go ahead and cover them. If you have facial piercings, take them out for court. The small things matter. If you still have questions about what you should wear, you should speak with your attorney.
FAQ #2: “Who Goes First?”
This is a question that we get a lot. When the trial starts, which party will get to speak first? Which party’s witnesses will get to testify first?
Answer: The Petitioner goes first. The Petitioner is the party that filed the lawsuit first. That means that the Petitioner’s attorney will give the first opening statement at the jury trial and get to call witnesses to the stand first. This also means that the petitioner’s attorney will have the opportunity to introduce evidence before the other attorney.
FAQ #3: “Will I Get to Tell My Side of the Story?”
Many people wonder if giving testimony is anything like it is on TV. Will you get to go into a full narrative about the time that you caught your husband cheating on you? Will you have time to talk about the time that the ex threw an empty baby stroller at your vehicle when you tried to exercise visitation with your kid?
Answer: Yes and No. You’ll get to tell your side of the story, but it won’t be in a full-blown narrative. First, your attorney will ask you questions. This is really the time for you to get your testimony heard. You have to note though, you can only answer questions that are asked. If your attorney is strategic, he or she will know how to ask you the questions that will elicit the testimony that you want the court to hear.
FAQ #4: “Does the Jury Make All of the Decisions?”
Answer: No. Under the Texas Family Code, a jury cannot decide all of the issues of the case. The judge (not a jury), will decide:
- Visitation schedule for the child;
- Child support;
- Parental decision-making powers;
- How Your Community Property will be divided;
- Spousal maintenance (alimony);
- Paternity; and/or
- Enforcement of a prior order.
FAQ #5: “How Much Will a Family Jury Trial Cost Me?”
Prepare your pocketbooks because a jury trial won’t be cheap. Jury trials are most complex type of hearing that you can have in civil court. If you want an experienced attorney to represent you, it will cost you. Additionally, due to the high cost associated with jury trials, if one party has access to substantially more liquid funds or assets than the other party, the requesting party can use the possibility of a jury trial as a weapon. What do I mean by using it as a weapon? Requesting a jury trial could be used as leverage against a party that cannot afford to have a jury trial. If this tactic is being used against you, you need to hire a lawyer who has experience and who can try the case efficiently and with ease.
Retainer fees for a jury trial range from $25,000 to $75,000. Depending on how long the case will take and where you are at in the process, the case could easily cost more.