When you are going through a divorce, it’s easy for the stress to start to mount. You have a lot to handle. One of those elements that you and your attorney will need to consider is evidence. It is more important than you might realize, and it could help to change the direction of your divorce.
Of course, most people don’t know much about gathering evidence since they’ve never had to do it before. What are the rules of evidence and what do you need to gather for your case? Who can be a witness, and what makes a witness an expert? In this two-part post, you’ll learn what you need to do to make sure that you are handling things correctly.
Although you might be able to go through a divorce case on your own, there are a lot of moving parts to consider. It’s easy to forget things or to do things incorrectly. This could damage your case and provide you with an outcome that you do not want. It’s important that you take the time to find and work with a good attorney who can work with you throughout your case.
What Is Evidence?
To put it simply, evidence is information. You need to provide evidence to the judge for every element of every issue relevant to your case. Using evidence that’s effective can mean any number of things. It might be documents that you have gathered, or it could be witness testimony. It might also be other physical sources of information, such as photos or voicemails.
When you are going through a divorce, you have to think about what you need to disclose, as well as what evidence you will need. Some of the most common types of legal issues that crop up during a divorce include child support, parenting time, attorney fees, custody, debts, and division of property.
Regardless of the type of issue in your case, you will need to provide evidence to support your position on it. Ultimately, it feels formulaic, and that’s because so much of it is based on the standard methods used in law. Things have to be done a certain way. Even though you might want to talk to the judge and let them know your story, so they can figure out what to do. It doesn’t work that way, though. You have to play by the rules of the system you are in.
For example, you can’t simply talk about how much of a problem your ex’s new partner is. You have to figure out a factor that applies to the issue at hand. For example, if you are trying to get more parenting time, you would need to have evidence that the new partner should not be around your children as often.
Some types of evidence are not likely to be disputed. For example, when calculating child support, having an affidavit of financial information, it will have most of the information needed for the calculator. It includes the factors that need to be covered for the child support calculator. This goes for anything that you want to challenge or bring up in the divorce. You need to have evidence whether it’s documentation, testimony, etc., which the judge can then view as information when making a decision.
What Are the Rules of Evidence?
The rules of evidence govern what comes into evidence and what a court can and can’t look at. You might have heard an objection because something is hearsay or has a lack of foundation. These are evidentiary objections used by attorneys.
In family court, the rules of evidence are typically relaxed. This means that if something is relevant, they just will let you use any relevant evidence. However, if someone files a notice of strict compliance, it means that authentication is required and the rules of evidence have to be followed.
There is a caveat to this, as well, though. If the case involves kids and there is evidence that is related to the best interest of the children, then it will be allowed as evidence in the court. The courts believe it is important to get things right when dealing with children.
In general, any evidence will be admissible in family court. This is important because you will be looking at all issues that are relevant to you. You and your attorney will map out the elements or subparts that need to be proven under them. Then, you will look at all of the evidence you have and determine where each of the pieces of evidence goes.
Organizing Your Information
If you are working with an attorney, you will find that it becomes much easier to gather and organize your evidence. They have the knowledge and experience needed to ensure that the evidence is taken care of properly. However, if you are trying to handle it on your own, you will need to develop a good system for keeping things in order.
You will want to have several file folders. You can have everything in an electronic folder on a computer, or you could have them printed and in paper form. It may be a good idea to have copies in digital form and paper form just in case. You might also want to have cloud backups for your digital documents if you have computer trouble. It’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared.
In part two of this post, we will be going deeper into what pleadings, court orders, correspondence, and disclosure are, as well as witness testimony, and more. Understanding this information can help you prepare if you are attempting to go through your divorce on your own without an attorney. If you have opted to use a divorce attorney, it will give you some insight into how the system works and what must be done. It can be easier for you to provide the attorney with what they need for your case.
If you’re an Arizona resident in need of assistance with organizing evidence, collection information or just need help processing a divorce, contact Modern Law at 480-937-2823.