Evidence in a Divorce and/or Custody Hearing
Many hearings in the family court involve supplying the court with evidence as to your claims. Only relevant and competent evidence can be received and considered by the court. Not every scrap of paper accumulated is going to be considered “relevant” to the court. And often, due to the time constraints of the court, it is especially necessary to select only the most relevant evidence for the court to consider.
Witnesses can be useful to tell the court facts they know, things they see, or things they hear one of the parties say. The more objective a witness appears, the better. A party to a dissolution proceeding will not need a witness for every fact or allegation. A party can testify or “tell their story” about most of the facts, but a witness that has observed violence or other bad behavior can be helpful to the court in verifying and validating what a party is alleging.
If a party to a dissolution proceeding wants a witness to testify at a hearing or the trial, they will need to prepare and file a witness list. This legal document tells the court and other party who the witness is, how they can be contacted, and generally what that witness can testify to.
There is other evidence beside witness testimony that may be helpful to a party’s case. Very often, physical evidence is used. Common types of physical evidence used in a dissolution or custody case consists of photographs, videotapes, voice records, and such other things as torn clothing, broken property, and documents.
To properly get a photograph or videotape into evidence, a party or witness must testify that the photograph or videotape accurately represents what is being shown at the time taken, and that the photograph or videotape has not been altered.
Voice recordings are a bit more tricky. In California, you cannot record another person without their consent. However, if someone leaves a voicemail message, that person understands by the nature of leaving a voicemail message that they are being recorded. A party or person will want to testify as to the voice being heard, how they know that to be the voice of that person, and general foundational information as to how the voicemail recording came to take place.
It is wise to collect and preserve potential evidence as early as possible. These are just some examples of common types of evidence, but realistically, almost any object can be an item of evidence, depending upon what the item would prove.