Are you involved in a divorce or child custody case? You are probably feeling a bit overwhelmed at life events and the legal process. The good news is that you can take charge and seek expert assistance. It is important to educate yourself the role of witnesses in your trial.Witness ExaminationsDirect Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses present evidence to the court through questions that you ask and their answers. You should plan your questions in advance and prepare the witness by doing a practice session with them where you ask the questions and they answer. Always keep in mind the information that the court requires to decide the issues in your case. Also keep in mind that the court wants your facts and not your opinions. For example, if you contend that there was "domestic violence", what situations actually occurred?
When asking questions, you can not lead the witness. You have to ask a question in a way that the witness can answer without you suggesting an answer. For example, it is correct to ask "Who has provided the majority of the day-to-day care to the child?" You would not ask "Isn't it true that Mother has provided most of the day-to-day care of the child?
Witness tip: You will only have time for one or two witnesses in many jurisdictions, other than yourself and the other party. Trial time is short.Cross Examination of the Other Party's Witnesses
After a party conducts a direct examination of a witness, then the other party can conduct a cross examination of that witness. In cross examination, you would ask questions about points raised in the direct examination that benefits your case. For example, you may ask questions that expose an incomplete or inaccurate explanation from the witness on direct examination from the witness. On cross examination, you can use leading questions. For example, if a witnesses testifies that they saw something, however you have evidence that they were in a different location then you can ask about that in an attempt to expose the inaccuracy.Expert Witnesses
Expert witnesses are witnesses that have specialized experience and knowledge and can testify as to opinion. You have to "qualify" the witness to the court as an expert witness. This means that you have to establish to the court why that witness should be considered to be an expert in a field and be permitted to offer opinion testimony. In order to qualify the expert, you ask questions about the witnesses’ education, experience, skills, professional associates, etc. You will enter into evidence their curriculum vitae; this is a very detailed resume. If they are qualified as an expert witness, when you examine the expert, you will ask about their report, findings and conclusions, and what documents they reviewed to produce the report.
Tip: You have to produce the expert report 56 days prior to trial and a copy of the expert’s curriculum vitae (resume).
Witness tip: You will not need or have time for character witnesses. Another person's opinion of you or the other party is not helpful to the court. A witness that can share specific facts relevant to decisions that the court has to make are helpful. For example, a witness might be able to discuss personal observations of your parenting.Turning Experience Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs Colorado
A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs divorce and family law matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating and advising about the role of witnesses at trial. Give yourself the benefit of hiring one. Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law has 24 years of legal experience and protects your best interests and ensures that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 for a free 30-minute informational consultation or complete our online form.