Since ATC is not a law firm it cannot give anything other than general information. It cannot tell you what is evidence in your particular case and it cannot tell you how to get evidence before the judge in your particular case. The following is a brief overview of evidence in family law cases.
Physical Evidence: includes anything that is tangible such as calendars, diaries, photos, school records, medical records etc. Remember any evidence you intend to ask the court to see must be given to the other side when you file your evidence. They must be given the opportunity to review it and call witnesses for cross-examination (ask questions about the evidence, what it is, where it came from etc.).
Police reports: These can be used but it is important to know that anyone can make a police report. They do not prove what happened unless the police officer who prepares the report actually saw you slug the other person, parent, etc. Without this the judge knows it is your word against the other person’s word. Still they can be useful as cumulative evidence, part of all your evidence to show that it is more likely than not that what you want to prove really happened.
Photographs, audiotapes, text messages: These can all be helpful, but they have to be authenticated. This means that you must convince the judge that they are accurate and true representations of what you say they are. This means you may have to have the person who took the photos, sent the text, or recorded whatever, testify to the court that they took the photo, etc. and that they have not been doctored or changed in any manner. If the person needed to testify to the court that your evidence is trustworthy is friendly you may ask them to come to court to authenticate your evidence if they are not friendly you may have to subpoena them to appear in court and testify.
Witnesses: You can also introduce evidence through testimony of witnesses. A witness, including yourself testifies under oath about what they have seen or heard. The other side has the right to ask them any questions about the testimony to clarify it, or to show that it is not trustworthy.
Expert witnesses: Is any individual who has a expertise in a certain subject or field, such as doctors, accountants, social worker who is qualified to give an opinion to the court in their testimony such as “in my opinion the child would be better off living at the north pole with santa”. Only expert witnesses are allowed to give their opinions in court due to their expertise.
Rules of Evidence: Because evidence used in the courts is so important there are rules in place in each state that are used to make sure the evidence presented to the judge is trustworthy vs. a forgery of a document someone might try to get in as evidence. For instance the rules of evidence require that all evidence be material that is relevant to the issues involved in the case and that physical evidence be able to be authenticated, that is usually the person who prepared the document testify in court as to it’s authenticity. If you plan on representing yourself in a trial you should consult with the rules of evidence in your state otherwise the court may not accept your evidence.
By Martin Mendoza Esq, CA