What happens at a child protection hearing or trial?

2. Present your case

After the (CAS) tells the court why they’re concerned about your child, you get the chance to respond to their concerns. If there are other people also responding, such as your child’s other parent, the judge tells you who goes first.

Witnesses

After your own , you can call your own witnesses. Usually, you are a to support your own case.

As a witness, you can tell the court about any changes you’ve made that deal with the concerns CAS has and to make sure your child is safe going forward.

Tell the court about your plan of care for your child or what you want. For example:

  • if you’re going for counselling and where
  • what support services you will use for your child
  • if you have support from your family or community, who will help you and how will they help you
  • what your child’s activities will be
  • what your source of income will be
  • if you go to work or school, who will look after your child while you are there

You should also be prepared to show proof or have someone else come to give evidence to confirm what you are saying.

Your other witnesses should only be people who agree with what you say. For example, if you tell the court that a family member or friend will support you, it’s a good idea to have that person be a witness.

Each of your witnesses will be asked questions on:

  • re-examination, if needed

You can’t ask your witnesses leading questions. To avoid asking leading questions, start your questions with who, what, where, when, why, how, or please describe.

You can ask the court to make documents exhibits as well. For example, you can ask the court to make your certificate of completion of a course an exhibit. Show CAS your documents before, so they don’t object at trial that they haven’t seen them.

Reply

If you speak about new facts when you present your case, CAS may get another chance to give evidence. They can call new witnesses to do this or ask old witnesses to give more evidence. But the witness can only talk about the new facts you presented. This is called “reply”.

Closing statements

After CAS and you have presented your evidence, you each give a .

In your closing statement, you give the judge a summary of your evidence and tell them why you should get the orders you’re asking for. It should be based on:

  • what the witnesses said
  • the documents used as evidence
  • family law rules and laws

You cannot talk about any new information that wasn’t already evidence in the trial.

CAS gives their closing statement first. You give yours after.  If there are other people also responding, such as your child’s other parent, the judge tells you who goes first.

If you or any other to the case spoke about something new in your closing statement, then the other might get to speak again. But they can only talk about the new issue.

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