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Divorce Litigation Guide (Part 9): Cross Examination and Closing Statements

Cross Examination and Closing Statements Divorce lawyers like Darren Shapiro use a variety of important techniques to successfully present cases to the courts of New York. In a divorce litigation case, it’s important for child custody lawyers and divorce attorneys to follow a certain structure when outlining essential facts and information. Often, this means starting with an opening statement that introduces the court to the case in question and following with a direct examination.

Already in our ongoing series of divorce litigation guides, we’ve discussed opening statements and direct examination. In this next section, we’ll focus on the cross-examination of witnesses in a divorce case, and how closing statements have an impact on the presentation of the case.

Using Storytelling for Divorce Litigation

For attorneys like Mr. Darren Shapiro, storytelling skills are crucial in the successful presentation of a case. The lawyers in a case must tell the right story for their client, highlighting factors that influence the judge and the court to share that person’s point of view. A successful attorney uses storytelling techniques to make the narrative as convincing and believable as possible.

  • Short and direct statements help guide witnesses in cross-examinations to confirm elements of one party’s story. For instance, Mr. Shapiro might ask: “Did you visit the couple?” or “Did you see the client speaking with another person?”
  • Looping is another popular technique for divorce attorneys to help witnesses on track and focused on a specific topic. For instance, Mr. Shapiro might keep a client focused on “The Smiths’”, by saying “You saw the Smiths drinking liquor” or “You spoke with the Smiths.”
  • Transitional questions help guide witnesses through a story in their mind to help them present clear pictures to the court. For instance, Mr. Shapiro might ask “What were you doing on the night of the 5th of September?”
Cross Examination in Divorce Litigation

Direct examinations are just one factor in a divorce case. Attorneys like Mr. Shapiro also use cross examinations to help the judge question statements that may have previously presented his client in the wrong light. Even when witnesses choose not to answer questions, their decision to remain silent can influence how the judge views the case.

  • Cross examination can be an emotional and daunting experience for all parties. Mr. Shapiro and divorce attorneys like him may need to undermine the credibility of witnesses and highlight the reliability of others to support a client.
  • Tools like cross-examination are useful in showing the judge and court room that not all testimonies will necessarily be complete, or reliable. Additional insights are sometimes required to deliver a full picture of the event, with views from both sides of the case. Cross examination helps to deliver a more complete overview.
  • Direct and cross examination are tools that Mr. Shapiro can use to provide the judge with a full story of the matter at hand, from the perspective of his client. Using storytelling skills, Mr. Shapiro may successfully improve the image of the client in a way that’s authentic.
  • As a case progresses naturally from the point of the opening statement through to the closing statement, lawyers can highlight the key components of a client’s situation in the appropriate context to drive certain thoughts and conclusions.
The Value of Closing Statements in Divorce Litigation

With opening statements, child custody lawyers and divorce attorneys like Mr. Shapiro outline what they are going to try and prove to the judge throughout the course of the case. In closing statements, these attorneys show that they have achieved their goal. Successful closing statements require divorce lawyers to use the available evidence to their advantage, alongside storytelling techniques. Attorneys need to harness and leverage the most important pieces of information available.

  • Good closing statements showcase the details of a case, highlighting important areas that support the outcomes and opinions that are essential to the client. Divorce lawyers can’t just repeat the facts in a closing statement. They need to arrange golden nuggets of information into a summary of everything the judge needs to know.
  • Mr. Shapiro’s job as a divorce attorney is to work with them to ensure that their side of the story is heard. This includes using a combination of storytelling techniques, carefully prepared statements, direct examination, and cross examination.
  • When working with clients on a divorce litigation case, Mr. Shapiro will discuss their circumstances with them in detail, and endeavor to find the golden nugget pieces of information necessary to persuade the judge in their favor. These pieces of information will appear frequently in the opening and closing statements, as well as throughout the case.

If you want to learn more about storytelling in a divorce litigation case, or the value of direct examination, cross examination, and closing statements, please read through the other blogs and our website for further insights. Upcoming bullet point series will further summarize some important insights on the divorce and family law landscape.

To discuss your case in further depth, contact Mr. Shapiro using our contact form, or call us on 516-333-6555. Initial consultations via Zoom, in-office meetings, or over the phone are free for up to 30 minutes.

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