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Court System Home » Representing Yourself » Family Law » FAQs » Getting Ready for Hearing or Trial » Formal Trial » What Happens at the Hearing or Trial

What Happens at the Hearing or Trial

  1. Watching a hearing is the best preparation you can do.
  2. Wear neat and clean clothes to court.
  3. When the judge comes in, he or she will say "on record" and the in-court will swear you in.
  4. The moving party or plaintiff goes first

A. Opening Statement: what you want and how you are going to make your case - why the evidence supports your request

B. Moving party or plaintiff (or their attorney if represented) calls first witness

Direct-examination: ask open questions and have them tell a story

Cross-examination: opposing party (or their attorney if represented) can ask leading questions - also called yes or no questions

Redirect: the party who did the direct examination can ask the witness questions after the cross-examination to fix or explain what the witness said. But the additional questions must be tied to what was said on cross-examination. Ask open questions again.

C. Call second witness and any others you have

D. Objections: telling the court that you don't think something should be allowed in because it violates the Rules of Evidence, "I object!"

5. Opposing party or defendant goes next and goes through the same cycle of calling witnesses who give direct testimony, and are then cross-examined by the other party.

6. Closing statements: restating what you want and how you've proved it.

7. Judge makes the decision

Return to Getting Ready for a Formal Trial page

Rev. 26 April 2017
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