Open-ended questions on direct examination

Family and divorce court trial

Parties going through a divorce or family law matter often have never been in a courtroom before.  A courtroom to them is a new place that brings a lot of discomfort.

For this reason, it is vital for any party to meet with their attorney to discuss courtroom etiquette, the overall case strategy, and the kinds of questions a party can expect to get on the witness stand during direct and cross-examination.  Obviously, the variables can be different based on the facts of a particular case.

As a general rule, during direct examination in a family court trial or hearing, a party can expect to answer open-ended questions from their attorney.  These open-ended questions are usually in the form of: what, where, when, why and how questions.  These questions ask the witness to tell a story, explain their perspective, and to give the court their perspective.  A party might also be asked to explain evidence that they wish to admit in court.

In contrast, to leading questions where a witness is simply asked to say “yes” and “no” to answers during cross examination, on direct examination, a witness will need to be prepared to speak openly in response to questions.  Having said that, witnesses on direct examination are generally told to simply answer the question asked.

Witnesses also should generally refrain from giving narrative answers that are too long-winded.  Narrative answers can often open doors that may result in a more difficult cross-examination from opposing counsel.  Narrative answers can also be hard to follow.

If you are going through a divorce or family law matter, and have a case that will result in a trial or hearing, Stange Law Firm, PC can help.  You can contact us at 1-855-805-0595 or at Columbia, Missouri divorce lawyers.


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