Law, trial process, and litigation is highly evolved by rules, cases, and statutes to allow trial court judges to receive the most accurate and relevant evidence, subject to tests of veracity, to make a fair and impartial decision. Often these technical rules provide confusion to divorce and custody litigants. This blog post explores the three most common evidentiary rules for these types of matters.
The first is hearsay. Other than what one party said to another party, as both are in the courtroom to testify if accurate, one party cannot say what he or she has been told by a third party. This avoids it from being made up or distorted. The third party has to be subpoenaed and a witness called at trial to testify about what was said.
The second is business records. A party cannot just provide medical records or bills generally without having someone validate the accuracy of the records. Otherwise, in today’s sophisticated computer world, “authentic looking records” could just be manufactured. A certified statement from the keeper of these records must be attached to the records or such a person must be present at trial to authenticate the records for them to be admissible.
The third or final rule of evidence litigants struggle with is that in order to testify to a fact they must have firsthand knowledge of the fact, such as by personal observation. They are not allowed to speculate or testify to hearsay.
An understanding of these rules will aid litigants in being engaged in the legal process to make the most accurate case for the judge (there is no jury trial in domestic cases). This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle divorce and child custody cases of all types across the State of Indiana as well as appeals. It is for general educational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. It is an advertisement.