Facebook  Twitter  Vimeo

Family Law NB Family Law NB Family Law NB - Online resources for the public

Going to Court

English or French
Presenting Your Case in Court
Preparing for Your Court Hearing
The Day of Your Hearing
Tips for the Court Hearing
After the Hearing

English or French?

You have the right to present your case in either English or French. The Official Languages Act provides for the use of English and French as the official languages of the courts.  You have the right to use the official language of your choice in any matter before the courts, including all proceedings or in any process of the court.  The law says that you should not be disadvantaged by reason of the choice you make.

Presenting Your Case in Court

It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare your case for a court hearing. Normally, you will give evidence by presenting written documents and by asking and answering questions.  Judges can only make a decision based on the evidence you submit to the court – so it is important to prepare carefully.

Preparing for Your Court Hearing

Here are some tips on how to get ready for your day in court:

  • Make a list of the main points and issues in your case
  • Prepare a detailed outline of what you think the judge needs to know and the facts that back it up. 
  • Decide how you intend to present those facts to the court.
  • If you plan on being the only witness, you will have to tell the judge the facts through your testimony and by responding to the questions asked by the other party or their lawyer. 
  • Decide if you will call other witnesses or provide documents or evidence for the judge.
  • If you do call witnesses, talk to them and prepare them beforehand. You should know what you will ask them in court – in fact, before you ask a question in court you should know what the witness will answer. Otherwise you may get an answer that does not help you.
  • Select witnesses who have first-hand knowledge of the facts that you want to present to the judge. Secondhand evidence is called hearsay and it is not allowed. For example, if you are bringing a letter from someone to use as evidence, you may have to bring the person who wrote the letter to court as a witness. Only an expert witness can give opinions or beliefs. Generally, the judge is only interested in the facts. 
  • It is up to you to make sure your witnesses know when to come to court.  If you think they may not show up, you will have to arrange for a Summons to Witness (Form 55A) to be issued by the court administrator in advance of the hearing.  You will also have to pay a fee to have the witness appear.    
  • Decide the order you will call your witnesses.
  • Prepare questions to ask the other party and their witnesses.
  • In planning what to say, try to anticipate and be prepared to answer issues you think the other party will bring up in court.
  • Stick to the facts you prepared to present your case to the court.

Preparation is the key to success when you represent yourself in Court.

The Day of Your Hearing

The day of the hearing or trial is your chance to present your case.  The judge will be sitting at the front of the courtroom facing the rest of the room, usually on a raised platform or “bench”.  A designated court official and a court stenographer also sit at the front.  The stenographer has a tape recorder.  The parties that present their cases to the judge sit at tables facing the judge.  This is normally where the lawyers for both parties sit. If you represent yourself, this is where you will sit or stand, facing the judge. If you are not sure where to sit, check with the court official.

Behind the tables is the gallery where the public sits. If you bring people with you for moral support, they will sit there.  When the court official calls your name you should stand up.  The judge will ask you if a lawyer is representing you.  After confirming that you are acting on your own behalf, the judge will ask you to take the witness stand.  Before giving evidence, or testifying, witnesses must take an oath, or affirm, to tell the truth.  

If you started the action, you will be called the applicant or petitioner, depending on the type of case.  The party who began the court action goes first.  If this is you, you will present your case by giving evidence and calling witnesses.  If you are the respondent, you will present your case once the applicant/petitioner is done.

Once you are done presenting you case (if you are the applicant or petitioner) and questioning witnesses, the other side will cross-examine them.  After that, your spouse or the other party, who may be represented by a lawyer, will have a chance to present their case in the same way, by giving evidence themselves and through witnesses.  It will then be your chance to cross-examine them and their witnesses.  Once the other side has finished giving their evidence, they will summarize their case by making a closing statement to the judge.

Tips for the Court Hearing

  • Reread all the documents that you or the other party filed with the clerk/administrator before you go.  Bring a copy with you.  The judge and the other parties (or their lawyers) will have copies.
  • Wear appropriate clothes.  There is no dress code for the public at court, but you should avoid jeans, t-shirts, hats, revealing clothes and flashy jewelry.
  • Be early.  Arrive about 15 minutes before court starts.
  • Ask where to sit.  When you arrive at the Court, ask a Sheriff’s officer which Court room you will be in.  They can direct you to the proper table to sit at in the room. 
  • Stand up when the judge enters the court room.  Remain standing until the judge sits down.  Stand when you speak.
  • Speak clearly and loud enough for the judge to hear you.
  • Be respectful to the judge.  When the judge speaks to you, always address the judge as “Mr. Justice” or “Madam Justice”. 
  • Do not interrupt the judge or anyone else when they are speaking. Do not sigh loudly or shrug your shoulders in disbelief.  If you disagree with someone, make a note. You can bring it up when it is your turn to speak.

After the Hearing

At the end of the hearing, the judge may give a decision.  However, sometimes judges want time to think about the case.  When that happens, they will make a written decision after the hearing is over.  The court administrator’s office will send you a copy of the court order when the judge has made the decision.

Family Law Information Video
Family Law Information Line
Family Law Workshops
Ask an Expert Videos
FAQs about Family Law
Going to Court
Family Law Forms
Family Law Publications
Find a Lawyer / Get Help
Self-Help Guides
Parenting After Separation
Parent Information Program
Court Evaluations Support
quick links header

Doing Your Own Divorce

Applying For Parenting and Support Orders

Changing Child Support - Orders made in NB

Changing Child Support - Orders made
outside NB

Need Help? Call the Family Law Information Line

Your Opinion Matters


What’s New
About This Site
Ask An Expert Videos

Living Common-Law
Separation and Divorce
Marital Property
Custody and Access
Child Support
Spousal Support
Support Enforcement
Staying Out Of Court
Representing Yourself
Other Issues


Going To Court
English or French?
Presenting Your Case in Court
Preparing for Your Court Hearing
The Day Of Your Hearing
Tips for the Court Hearing
After the Hearing

Family Law Forms
Printing & Completing Forms
Custody, Access and Support
Changing an Order
Interjurisdictional Support Orders
Consent Order
Court-Ordered Evaluations Support Program
Family Law Forms for Saint John and Moncton


Family Law Publications
Family Law for Immigrants
Child and Spousal Support
Child Support Recalculation Service
Parenting After Separation
Divorce and Separation
Support Enforcement
Family Violence
Other Materials

Find a Lawyer/Get Help
Family Law Information Video
You and Your Lawyer
Find a Lawyer
Get Help (Domestic Legal Aid)
Legal Advice Clinics

Self-Help Guides


Parenting After Separation
Online Parent Information Program (PIP)
(formerly known as For the Sake of the Children)

Family Law Information Line


Public Legal Education and Information
Service of New Brunswick

  P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton
New Brunswick, Canada E3B 5H1
  Telephone: (506) 453-5369
Family Law Line: 1-888-236-2444