how to conduct cross-examination in a family law case
cross examination follows direct examination in a family law case. it is a way of confronting a witness of his testimony.
Cross examination is a useful way of bringing a case around to your favour. During the trial of a family law case, it is the part that follows after direct examination.
What is cross-examination and its purpose?
It is an important part in a family law trial that allows a party to confront the other party’s testimony and evidence. To put it simply, it is a way of showing to the court the weakness of the other party’s case. By asking the right questions the deficiencies of a party’s testimony or evidence will be exposed. The credibility of the witness may be attacked. It may also be a way of showing the inconsistencies in the set of truth that is being put forth by the adverse witness.
The skilful conduct of a cross-examination is developed by experience. Before proceeding, first ask yourself whether the testimony or the evidence has damaged the theory of your case. If it does not then you don’t need to conduct cross examination anymore. Ascertain first your reasons before you proceed. Do you want to show the inconsistencies? Do you think you can get answers from the witness that will be in your favour? Thus, it is important that you do not repeat asking questions that were damaging during the direct examination.
Do not ask questions to which you don’t know the answers. You should know when to hold off in asking questions. It is better to be safe than bringing out damaging truth or information through an overzealous cross-examination.
Avoid the ‘W’ questions. The what, when, where, why questions are asked and most likely sufficiently answered during cross examination. Instead, formulate your questions that will only elicit a yes or no answer from the witness. This kind of questions are called leading questions. It is as if you are leading the witness to the answer that you already know. The yes or no questions do not give the witness an opportunity to explain or elaborate his answer. Allowing the witness to explain or narrate could result to damaging testimony.
Ask questions that are arranged logically. Your subsequent question should be related or is meant as a follow-up to the previous question. The questions that you ask must be clear and brief leaving no room for confusion or vagueness.
No, perhaps most especially in family law cases. Sometimes children are involved in family law cases. There is a different way of asking questions to a child as compared to an adult.
The court will disallow questions that confuse or mislead the witness. Questions that are argumentative are also not allowed. Harassing, insulting or humiliating the witness during cross examination is disallowed.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.