Direct examination is your opportunity to tell the Judge your “side
of the story".
This is your opportunity to tell the Judge what it is that you want the
Court to do.
You will be nervous, so be sure to practice and be prepared for your direct
It is important to get across to the Court your positive attributes as
a parent, if there are child-related issues involved.
Don’t just focus on the negatives of the other parent.
Do focus on the positives of you as a parent.
Your goal should be to paint a picture for the judge about how things have
been working prior to the separation and filing for divorce.
Focus on events that occurred within 90 to 120 days prior to the filing
of the divorce, unless you and your spouse have been separated for quite
some time or if there are facts that are important that pre-date this
A judge will likely not be interested in something that happened 5 years
ago at this stage of your case.
For instance, during the last 90 to 120 days who takes the children to
school, who gets them up and ready in the mornings, who helps them with
homework, who picks them up from school, who cooks them dinner, who gets
them ready for bed, who gets them to extracurricular activities, who takes
care of their medical needs, etc.
Be sure to meet with your attorney in advance to find out what kinds of
questions that he/she will be asking you.
Once you know what kinds of questions that you will be answering, take
some time and think about your responses.
Practice saying your responses out loud before the date of the hearing.
Be sure to give a concise response to the questions.
Many counties in Texas will limit the time that you have to present your
case to the Judge at the temporary orders hearing.
Often times you will have 20 to 30 minutes, so don’t waste time going
on about things that are irrelevant for this stage of your case.
Your attorney will be asking you questions that will generally start with
“who,” “what,” “when,” “where,”
“why,” “how,” or “please explain.”
Be sure that you are familiar with any documents that your attorney plans
to introduce into evidence through you.
Know what you need to do to assist your attorney in getting these documents
admitted into evidence.
Your attorney will likely prepare a relief requested exhibit that contains
all of the specific things that you are asking the Court to order. For
instance, what possession schedule you are proposing, what child support
amount you are proposing, etc.
Once the relief requested exhibit and/or any other exhibits have been admitted
don’t just shove them aside, use them to assist you with your direct
If you do not understand the question that you are being asked be sure
to stop and ask your attorney to please repeat and/or rephrase the question.
You never want to answer a question that you do not understand.
If either attorney makes an “objection” during your testimony,
stop answering the question immediately whether you are mid-word or mid-sentence.
The judge will then rule on the objection.
If the judge sustains the objection, then you do not have to answer it.
A way to try to remember this is sustain starts with an “S”
and stop starts with an “S,” so if the judge sustains, then
you stop and do not have to answer that question.
If the judge overrules the objection you have to answer the question.
At this point, you will likely not remember the question, so make sure
that you ask the attorney to repeat the question.
It is possible that the judge could ask you some questions directly at
the conclusion of your direct examination. Be sure to be respectful and
answer only the question(s) that the judge is asking you. This is not
your opportunity to say anything and everything you would like.