DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine is in a vicious battle with her husband over custody of their children. They have been trying to get divorced for several years now, but it has been really difficult, in part because there's a lot of money at stake. My friend is so sad about her family falling apart and about him trying to "steal the children," as she puts it. The other day she asked me if I would testify on her behalf to maybe help her to keep her kids. I'm nervous about this. I have never been in a courtroom, and I'm afraid I will mess up. I love my girlfriend, and I have seen her do things really well, but also I have seen some messed-up things she has done. I figure that's just her being a person.
When I see these shows on TV and how people on the witness stand are grilled, I'm afraid of what they might get me to say. I would never lie, but I see on TV how they make people bend the truth. I feel like I want to pass on helping her, mainly because I'm afraid it could backfire. What should I do? -- Supporting My Friend, Dallas
DEAR SUPPORTING MY FRIEND: Have a heart-to-heart with your friend and tell her your concerns. Express your love for her and her family and your sadness at the turmoil she is experiencing right now. Be forthright with her about your skittishness to take the stand. Ask her to hear you out, and then tell her all of your thoughts. Spare nothing, because it will be much better for her to hear from you directly and privately than later in a court of law before a judge and possible jury. Tell her your thoughts that don't paint her in the most positive light, and point out that, if asked, you would have to say those things, too. Find out if she understands your point of view. If she does and continues to want you to testify, you will at least know that your honest testimony -- and all that comes with that -- is what she expects to hear.