Send holiday cards to potential witnesses and invite them over for Thanksgiving and Christmas
The holiday season is an opportunity for parents involved in custody cases to cultivate goodwill among potential witnesses. If you’re involved in a custody case or one is looming on the horizon, think about who you might call as witnesses. Who can provide useful testimony? Who can recount favorable experiences in which you exhibited admirable parenting skills?
Don’t forget your potential witnesses over the holidays. Be sure to send them holiday cards. Wish them a happy new year. Invite them to family gatherings and celebrations, and if appropriate, give them gifts that recognize your friendship. If you have a likely witness who would possibly be alone, without family, on Thanksgiving, be sure to invite him or her to your family dinner.
Remembering your potential witnesses over the holidays, and inviting them to family gatherings, is not only a good way to solidify your friendship and win their support, but it may also give them a current opportunity to observe your parenting ability. Let them see how well you handle family affairs, how you deal with your children (and other children who may be visiting). Let them observe how mannerly, polite, and how responsible you conduct activities, and let them observe how clean, safe and well-organized your home environment is.
While it is important to maintain good relationships with your witnesses, you ought not to bribe them with extraordinary gifts and overcome them with sudden favors or acts of gratitude. Remember that witnesses can be cross-examined in court. If it appears that they are testifying on your behalf to repay a financial or social obligation, or because they feel “guilted” into helping you, their testimony may be rejected or discounted by the judge. Use your judgment, and put the holiday season to work for you, carefully and cautiously, if you’re heading into a custody battle in the weeks or months ahead.