Using Evidence to Your Advantage Part 2
In part one, we discussed what evidence is and the rules of evidence, as well as some tips on how to start organizing your information. Now, we’ll pick up with the types of evidence that need to be stored in separate folders, discuss witness testimony, and more. This information can help you to prepare better and to get a better understanding of what’s happening with your case.
Pleadings and Court Orders
There will be a file folder for pleadings and court orders. Orders will come from the courts. This could be minute entries, rulings from a judge, and anything that’s ever happened in your case. Keep all of these together and try to keep them in order by date. Pleadings are anything that has been filed with the court. These types of evidence should be kept in the folder, as well.
Correspondence with the Other Side
This would be any communications that you have had with the other party. These types of evidence might be emails that you have had between the two of you. For example, if your ex says that she will not come to meet you at the designated drop-off spot for the kids because she’s too drunk to drive. This could become important evidence. You don’t have to save every bit of communication between you and your ex. However, you do need to save everything that you believe could be relevant to your case.
Disclosures are not optional. They are required in every case where there are problems, and you and your spouse have a requirement to exchange information. If there are property issues, for example, you would need to disclose deeds and similar items. If you have issues with the kids, you will need to disclose those issues. There is no getting around disclosure in cases where there are issues present.
This exchange of information must be done within 40 days of the response being filed. In reality, this does not always happen, especially when people are representing themselves. In cases where you agree on enough things when you are proceeding with your divorce, it may not be mandatory.
What happens if you do not disclose certain types of evidence? It could mean trouble. The judge might not allow your documents as evidence. It could cause you to lose out on child support, as well as all of the other issues that you are bringing to the court. If you don’t disclose money you have and you are trying to hide it, the other side could end up getting all of it. If you get caught hiding assets, you could pay dearly.
To disclose, you need to create a disclosure statement. You will need to identify the names of the documents you are using, include your position on relevant legal issues, and add the names and addresses of any legal witnesses, including a summary of what they will testify to. When you file the statement, the other side can’t make claims that they did not receive disclosures. You should keep a running log of everything that is disclosed and the date that it was disclosed.
You do not have to file the documents you are disclosing. You simply have to give them to the other party. In cases where you can’t get the information you need, you can use interrogatories. These are written questions that are served to the other party. They will have 40 days to respond, and their answers are treated as testimony.
It is also possible to request a range of different types of documents using a request for production of documents. These documents might be financial, medical, or criminal documents that you will need for your case.
The Affidavit of Financial Information
This is one of the most important pieces of evidence. Both you and your ex will need to submit an affidavit of financial information to the court. It is important for things like child support and spousal maintenance, as it provides an accurate view of your finances. Keep in mind that if you get a raise, you will need to create a new affidavit of financial information.
What Is Witness Testimony?
A witness can be anyone who has personal knowledge of an issue that is relevant to your case. For example, if someone witnessed domestic violence occurring in your relationship, they could provide testimony that can be used as evidence. Additionally, an employer might be called on as a witness to report on anticipated future income. Using witness testimony has the potential to make or break your case, as long as you keep it to a minimum.
An expert witness is someone who does not have personal knowledge of the situation, but they do have an expert opinion to offer based on the facts they have been given. To be qualified as an expert witness, a person will need to have enough information, experience, and training to be considered an expert. Some examples of expert witnesses include parenting coordinators, court-appointed advisors, forensic psychologists, and financial experts.
You do not always need to bring in an expert witness, of course. However, if you and your ex are fighting over a business valuation or if you want to determine the actual earning capacity of someone, you might want to use an expert witness.
Expert witnesses need to be disclosed. This means that you need to tell the opposing party that you will be using an expert witness, and you have to provide them with their name. You have to do this at least 60 days before trial.
If you have serious issues, the case will likely need to have expert witnesses. This would include cases where there is domestic violence, parental alienation, mental illness, or if you are trying to overturn a previous ruling.
Work With an Expert
If you are going to be going through a divorce, you can see that there is a lot to consider just when it comes to understanding and gathering different types of evidence. Even though you can try to handle it all on your own, you might be better off working with an attorney who is an expert in the field.