What is Admissible Evidence in Custody Proceedings?

Divorce is hard – You don’t need us to tell you that. It’s even harder when children are involved. It’s understandable. Frequently both parents want to do everything they can to make sure they live with their children. Frequently parents will try to gather as much evidence as possible to strengthen their case. Sometimes this is a worthwhile endeavor – Other times, it isn’t. There is a wide range of admissible evidence, so it can be tough to tell you exactly what to look for. This is especially true as marriages, divorces, and parenting situations differ.

However, there are some questions we get asked a lot… And these often involve evidence that cannot be used. So in this article, we’ll go over some of the common submissions parents bring us.

Can I Submit Recordings as Evidence in Florida?

People frequently try to record conversations to use as evidence in Florida. The State of Florida has very firm laws about recording that determine whether a recording is legal. Naturally, you cannot submit an illegal recording as evidence. In the State of Florida, both parties must consent to being recorded. Clients often wear a recording device on their person during a conversation. You usually cannot use recordings obtained in this manner as evidence.

Can I Submit Chat Logs or Digital Recordings as Evidence in Florida?

There exists in Florida an expectation of privacy from interception. In this context, interception refers to gaining evidence by using electronic, mechanical, or other devices to gain information. For example, keyloggers, screen recorders, private wiretaps, and so on are often used. Evidence like this is not admissible in the State of Florida. In addition, sometimes, parties access a spouse’s email without their knowledge or consent. This is also typically not admissible.

Can I Submit Something I Heard as Admissible Evidence in Florida?

Florida Evidence Code §90.801 defines certain statements as “hearsay.” That means said statements are not allowed as evidence. Generally, parties other than the declarant who make third-party statements are considered hearsay. This can be a problem, as disparaging remarks made in front of children, admissions made by a parent indicating a lack of fitness, or revelations about drug or alcohol abuse may not be admissible. Even police observations in a police incident report can be considered hearsay.

Can My Child Testify in Florida?

Florida’s Family Law Rules have been amended to provide that children will not testify under most circumstances. The State of Florida must first determine that the child’s testimony is necessary. Children are usually not allowed to be at family court proceedings.

The Bottom Line

Without knowing what evidence will help your case, you have no way of knowing what to look for. Private investigators can be helpful, but some findings may still not be admissible. However, experienced Family Law attorneys know there are strategies and exceptions to many of these rules. For example, children “of sufficient age and maturity” can testify at attorney request, at the discretion of a court judge. In addition, subpoenas can be used to gain third-party declarations in court, avoiding hearsay rules. There are also many hearsay exceptions in general.

This is why it is crucial to work with an experienced Family Law attorney. You want the professionals at Thompson Law on your side during your contested divorce. Having the right evidence will make all the difference.