The way trial is conducted for a family law case depends on whether it is a less adversarial trial or not. Still, there are three basic parts of a trial: opening hearing, evidence presentation and closing address.
Trial is sometimes unavoidable for some family law cases. Once parties fail to agree during the family dispute resolution it is best to start preparing for trial because the failure to reach an agreement with the other party means that you would have to prove to the court your entitlement to the relief you are seeking.
The way trial is conducted for a family law issue depends on whether the court will follow a less adversarial trial or not. A less adversarial trial is fast, easy and less costly. The judge has complete control of how the trial is run by deciding what relevant issues the parties must tackle and what evidence needs to be presented. In a normal trial, the parties and their counsels have more freedom to submit to the court the issues that they need addressed and the defences and evidences they have to raise to support their case.
The court prepares for trial by conducting a procedural hearing during which the judge will inform the parties of the hearing dates, the issues and the evidence that they must present. By this time, parties must already be prepared with the names of their witnesses because they may need to be subpoenaed or that the other party might request their presence for cross examination in the next hearing. The affidavits of parties and witnesses must also be ready by this time.
Below are basically the common parts of a trial in family law issues:
The next hearing before the court would be the trial proper. The first part of the trial is the opening hearing. This is when the judge allows parties to state their objections to evidence that they think inadmissible according to the rules of evidence. From the affidavits of parties a seasoned lawyer will be able to determine which he thinks should not be admitted by the court. The judge will then rule on the objections.
The applicant will be the first to present his evidence and this is done through his affidavits. There is no need to give oral evidence unless the court requires it. The respondent will then cross-examine the applicant and his witnesses. After the cross-examination the counsel of applicant is permitted to ask questions to the applicant and his witnesses.
The same process is followed when it is the turn of the respondent to present evidence.
In this part, parties or their counsels will summarize the issues and their evidence. They will convince the court that their evidence is sufficient to support their prayer. Case law and provisions from the Family Law Act and other applicable laws may be cited.