The most effective type of evidence in a divorce case is generally the testimony of the people themselves. What better way is there to show a Judge a person’s side of the story by having that person tell the Judge directly? Testimony of a party is especially effective laying down the base layer of facts for the Judge.
Testimony is incredibly valuable with issues that concerning parenting time. A person cannot necessarily prove that they have been the primary care giver of a child through documents. The best thing a parent can do is tell the Judge how they have been a primary caregiver. For example the parent can go into detail about the minor child’s routine, medical history, school routine, and other extracurricular the child is involved in. If the testifying parent can have another witness testify to his or her observations of that parent participating in all these activities, the higher likelihood the Judge will believe the testimony to be true.
When dealing with serious issues such as domestic violence, testimony of experts becomes incredibly valuable. A first responder to an incident that occurred between the parties is a great example of witness. A third unbiased party such as a first responder helps the Judge pick through the “he said, she said” type of testimony.
Although testimony is great, it can be a little tricky. Having a close relative such as a parent or a sibling testify on your behalf may look a little dubious. Even if your witness is telling the truth, keep in mind what the Judge sees. The Judge will hear spectacular testimony from a witness who has a personal relationship with the party. Of course that person will testify beautifully for that person because of their close relationship. I always recommend choosing carefully your witnesses and not going over the top with witnesses you have a close relationship with in order to maintain a genuine story.
Tangible Evidence can be just about anything you can imagine. Tangible evidence is particularly effective on the property side of a divorce case. Documents such as appraisals on a marital home, pay stubs of parties, and quarterly statements for investment accounts are invaluable to a divorce case. Documents like these tell the Judge exactly what the Judge needs to know. It cuts out the middleman. It eliminates a party from trying to recall form memory how much money has been accrued in the marital investment account. Instead you use the document, straight and to the point. Pay stubs are one the most used pieces of evidence. Pay stubs show the parties’ incomes, and in turn is what determines spousal maintenance and child support.
Documents straight from the source are valuable, but so are demonstrative exhibits. These are documents created by an attorney to express a particular point. For example, if I am having a hard time showing the court what my Client’s income is because it constantly fluctuates, I will create a spreadsheet that averages his past annual income amounts in order to show a Judge his income. It is helpful to demonstrate the numbers in a tangible form rather than having your Client just directly testify to those amounts. Now keep in mind, you typically have to back up a demonstrative exhibit with actual documents (such as tax returns from those years to prove the previous incomes were accurate).
Knowing which exhibits to use in a hearing can make or break a case. Being unprepared for a hearing because you didn’t bring the right evidence is never a path to success.
Christopher Nicolaysen is a Family law Attorney who practices in Colorado Springs, CO. He graduated from Denver Sturm College of Law, and has been practicing law for several years now. Christopher Nicolaysen is passionate about helping you solve your family matters. Learn more about his experience here.