A child custody case may require direct or cross-examination of witnesses. This is where both parties ask questions to the third-party witnesses to ascertain facts regarding the case for better judgment by the court. This normally happens in cases that go into hearing and trial. You can ask questions directly to your witnesses if you are representing yourself in court, or to the witnesses of the other party.
The questions to ask should be in the form of who, where, what, why, how, when, and explain among other formats. In addition to that, you should keep your questions short and specific to avoid confusing your witnesses.
What are some of the rules to follow when asking questions to your witnesses?
There are always rules in every setup. When in court with your witnesses, you may want to ask them everything regarding what they know about your child custody case but there are some rules that apply.
The rules say:
- Do not ask leading questions to your witnesses.
- Keep your questions short and specific to the point.
- Do not ask questions that you aren’t sure of the answers to.
- Do not argue with your witnesses if they do not respond to your expectations.
It is invaluable to keep your witnesses organized in their answers by starting with the most obvious and simple questions as you proceed to the more intense ones.
It is also key to note that your key witness in a child custody case should be someone who is able to answer anything regarding your behavior or character. It can be your neighbor, colleague, daycare provider, or anyone who can give primary evidence of your relationship with the child, and that of the other parent as well.
The following, therefore, are some of the awesome questions to ask witnesses in a child custody case:
1. What is your Name and Address?
This is an introductory question to begin your examination. After that, you can ask about the relationship that he or she has with the respondent in the case.
It is also important to help the court understand the physical address of the witnesses. The judge will take a record of all the witnesses’ details including their physical addresses and thus is a valuable question before you can proceed to the more important details.
2. How well do you know the children?
Any witness that will weigh in on the best interest of the children will, indeed, need to know the children, their current habits, lifestyle, and personality to some extent.
Your witness doesnt need to know the daily ins and outs of the child’s life, but should be more familiar than a distant family friend, if they are going to offer testimony to their well being.
3. For how long have you known both parents?
Your witness can be someone who has known you for some time. He or she should be able to testify on what he or she has seen over a period of time regarding your relationship with the children and the other parent. This question will help the court get more understanding of the witness and your relationships.
4. What are your thoughts on the child’s relationship with me and that of the other parent?
You can ask if the other parent has played an active role in the development or has supported them in school and extracurricular activities, and how they generally relate or bond. You want to advocate for the best interests of the child, and this question should give a witness a platform to explain what you have done, and maybe the other parent has not done.
5. What is your opinion about which parent would be best for the child to live with?
This is an excellent question to ask if you want to know how the witness feels about where the child should live. You could also ask them what they believe would be in your client’s best interest while considering both parents’ caretaking skills and financial support.
This is also an essential question if a witness is close to either parent. It will help you determine if the witness has preconceived notions or strong opinions about one of them being better than the other.
6. Do you believe that the other parent is more likely than me to provide a suitable home environment for the child?
If you can, try to get a witness that knows you and the other parent well. That way, the opinion they share will be based solely on the facts of the case and not their personal feelings about either party. If the other parent has a history of drug use or violence, this question could lead to information that could better chances for winning the case.
This is also an open question that would open other avenues for the witness to explore some of the things that would be crucial in the case as he or she has observed. He or she will give primary evidence of the most suitable parent to care for the needs of the child.
7. Do you see anything that might affect my parenting or that of the other parent?
You can also ask specific questions about the child’s living, education, and extracurricular activities in any situation that might arise to rob the ability to meet these needs. You could ask for their opinion on these things based on what they’ve seen or heard.
If you are an attorney asking on behalf of your client, this is a great question to ask. It will help you determine if they have any opinions on how your client’s parenting skills can be improved so that their child has the best life possible.
8. Which parenting style do you think would work better in this situation?
After your witnesses have heard of the proceedings. At least they have an idea of your situation and the complexity of the case. Sometimes you may also want to have an eye-opener on the best parenting that would benefit the children and you want to have a view of what your witnesses think.
This will lead your witness to explain the parenting that would suit your children as opposed to what the other party may be seeking. This can also lead the witness to explain how you have been parenting your children, whether you are lenient or strict, and the benefits or consequences of that parenting style in regards to your child’s behavior.
9. What is your take on a shared custody arrangement?
If you are seeking joint custody, you may want to have a witness testify on the importance of you both sharing custody other than the other parent enjoying sole custody rights of the child or children as that may not serve the interests of the child/children.
This can work best if you are a father and you know perhaps your chances of winning sole custody is minimal. Your witnesses could be an eye-opener for the court to take your plea for joint custody over what the other parent may be seeking.
10. What do you feel would be the best custody arrangement for this child?
A witness view is also considered by the court and this is about the best interests of the child. Asking this to your witness would make the court interpret that you are after the interests of the child and not your own.
The specifics of custody arrangements can make huge differences in family dynamics and in the life of the child. The child should have a safe and healthy environment to grow and develop. Therefore, when asking this question to your witnesses, you should be able to defend what your witnesses raise about the arrangement that you are seeking. That is, you should be capable of promoting that arrangement as your witness would explain.
This question will also help your witness describe precisely what they think a suitable custody and visitation arrangement should look like for the best interests of the child.
11. Do you have any concerns with either party being granted primary sole custody?
You don’t just ask this if your witness does not know the other parent. If your witness is someone who knows both of you, then he or she will be in a better position to explain the best custody arrangement that would suit your kids. This question is also necessary if you are seeking sole custody.
If you think the other parent has been excessively hostile and your witnesses know he is unfit to be custodial of the child, then it would be a prudent question to ask to help the court understand the character of the other parent. There may be several reasons why you may want to ask this question and that include:
- If the other parent has been hostile to the child or children.
- If the other parent is engaged in drug and substance abuse.
- If the other parent had been violent and abusive.
- If the other parent has a history of neglecting the child.
- If the other parent is likely to alienate or have alienated the child.
- If the other parent is not able to meet the demands of the child.
Your witness would be a great resource to the court in explaining what best fits the interests of the child having known you and your ex perfectly well.
If you are preparing for a child custody hearing or trial where your witnesses would be required, you need to prepare and get some key questions to ask them as in this awesome article. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same as we have structured but you can pick some that would relate to your case and the custody arrangement that you are seeking.