Like other legal proceedings, family law cases such as divorce or parenting time (formerly child custody) require evidence. Any evidence presented during a trial is thoroughly reviewed by a judge before making a final decision. At Strieker Law Firm, we always advise parties to consult with a family law attorney. However, understanding how to present evidence in family court can help you to better prepare for the journey ahead.
Illinois Rules of Evidence and How it is Used
Before presenting evidence in a family law case, it’s important to know the basic rules of evidence. In Illinois, any presented evidence must adhere to the following:
- Evidence must be relevant.
- There must be a foundation for evidence.
- Evidence must avoid hearsay.
- If using a witness, the witness can only testify if they have personal knowledge.
When Do I Need Evidence?
In a contested divorce, evidence can be used to help a judge make decisions on key divorce terms. This includes the division of marital assets, such as property, retirement accounts, or vehicles. Parties may also need to prepare and know how to present evidence in family court to modify a parenting-time agreement. In these instances, one parent may need to provide documentation or witnesses to demonstrate how they can provide for the child’s best interest.
What Can Be Used As Evidence in Family Court?
Depending on whether the proceedings are for divorce or parenting time, several different items can be used as evidence. This includes expert witnesses, such as CPAs, real estate appraisers, private investigators, psychologists, and physicians. Evidence can also include documents like bank statements, letters, and emails. Attorneys can even present social media evidence to the court in the form of posts, photos, and videos. In certain disputes involving children, an attorney may also use school or medical records as evidence of the child’s well-being.
Understanding How to Present Evidence in Family Court
Attorneys often gather evidence for divorce and parenting time disputes during the discovery phase. The discovery phase takes place after one party has filed a petition for divorce or custody of the child. The evidence gathered during this phase can help one or both parties resolve disputed issues. While there are guidelines and resources available for parties to help gather and collect evidence, the best way to ensure that it is done correctly is to seek the counsel of a trusted family law attorney.
If you have questions or are looking for legal assistance, Strieker Law Firm can help. Contact us today to learn more.