How does a judge assess credibility

Date: Mar 28, 2011
Document Type: Article
A small minority of family law cases require a decision from the Court, whether it involves parenting or financial issues. Where there is a different version of facts given by each party, one of the tasks of the Judge hearing the case is to make findings of fact. In other words, which version of events does the Judge believe to be the correct version.
 
At a final hearing in a family law case, each party’s primary evidence is given in written form in affidavits. A person who swears an affidavit can be cross-examined as to its contents. This is where the opposing party’s lawyer asks questions about the contents of a party’s affidavit. This is where a Judge closely listens to the evidence given by a party under cross-examination, as the Judge will be assessing that party’s credibility.
 
When a Judge assesses the credibility of a party under cross-examination, the Judge will be looking for how candidly or thoughtfully that person considers the questions and provides answers, whether the person is evasive, and whether the answers given are consistent with that person’s primary evidence in affidavit form.
 
Where a Judge assesses that a party is lacking in credibility, then where there is a difference between a version of events given in evidence by each party, the credible party’s evidence will most likely be preferred.
 
Further information
Contact Paul Boers, Gillian Wright or our Managing Partner, Dominic Wilson on (02) 8268 4000 or by email at craddock@craddock.com.au for friendly professional service.
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