3. Give your evidence

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Family Law - Going to family court
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Ministry of the Attorney General
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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What happens at a family law trial?
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3. Give your evidence

Your evidence includes your witnesses, including yourself, and documents. The applicant goes first, then the respondent.

Introduce your evidence

Before you can use a document or other piece of evidence at trial, someone has to identify it by telling the judge who made the document and what it's about. This can be you, your partner, or another witness.

These documents can include affidavits, financial statements, letters, photographs, receipts, or reports. If no one objects, the document becomes an exhibit.

Direct examination

You decide the order of your witnesses. When your witness takes the stand, they swear, affirm, or promise to tell the truth.

You examine each of your witnesses by asking questions to get answers that support your case. This is called examination-in-chief or direct examination.

Questions on direct examination are generally open-ended. This means they don't tell the witness what to say.

Questions that tell the witness what to say are called leading questions. You cannot ask leading questions on direct examination.

To avoid asking leading questions, ask questions that start with who, what, where, when, why, how, or please describe.

Cross examination

Your partner can then cross-examine your witnesses, asking their own questions. Leading questions are allowed during cross-examination. The purpose of cross-examination is to test how true and reliable the witness' answers are.

If you have given evidence in your case, your partner will be allowed to cross-examine you.

Re-examination

You can then re-examine your witness to make clear anything that came up during the cross-examination. But, you can't raise any new issues.

Objections

At any time during the questioning of a witness, you can object to questions being asked or to documents being given to the court. You can only object to something if you can show there is a reason why the judge shouldn't hear the evidence.

New issues

If the respondent raises a new issue, the applicant can respond by calling more witnesses or recalling witnesses who have already testified. These witnesses can be examined, cross-examined, and re-examined.

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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario)
Reviewed: July 1, 2018

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