Navigating Colorado’s rules of evidence in family court can be complex. Just as an editor at a major newspaper might strike through lines of a journalist’s work to ensure that only relevant, factual information ends up in the final copy, a court disallows evidence that isn’t relevant to the matter at hand or evidence that relies on hearsay.
While some basic insights into what is and is not admissible in family court can be helpful, it’s always best to speak to your family law lawyer in Denver about what evidence is relevant and admissible in your court case.
What is Not Generally Admissible in Family Court
One of the most common misconceptions about evidence admissibility in family court centers around third-party statements. When settling matters of custody and parenting time, parents often seek to offer evidence such as written statements from family, friends, and neighbors to provide character references on one parent’s behalf about acts of good parenting they’ve witnessed or statements addressing the negative parenting they’ve witnessed on the part of an opposing parent.
The courts consider any statement by a third party as hearsay, and therefore inadmissible as evidence in family court matters. If a lawyer determines that what the third party wishes to attest is relevant to the case, they are likely to request that the witness attend the hearing and testify in person.
Statements made by a child during custody cases are also inadmissible as evidence in family court under most circumstances.
Secret Voice Recordings
Conversations recorded in secret are typically inadmissible in family court proceedings. Heated conversations occur often in divorces and spouses may say things they later regret. While any threat of violence should be taken very seriously, recordings taken in secret to show a spouse’s negative attributes are typically viewed negatively by a judge and most judges would rule this as inadmissible unless there’s a serious admission and you were present during the conversation. Secretly recording a spouse in conversation with a third party without your presence is always inadmissible in family court matters.
A Police Report
Police reports are typically only admissible in family court if the officer is also present to testify.
What is Admissible Evidence in Colorado Court?
While secret voice recordings are not admissible as evidence in family court, text messages, emails, photos, and screenshots of social media interactions are admissible evidence in family court proceedings. The court is likely to request an entire conversation for full context rather than excerpts.
Documents and Records
Any records or paperwork related to financial disclosure, such as tax documents, pay stubs, bank records, and investment information.
Child’s Statement Under Specific Circumstances
In some circumstances, a child’s statement may be relevant. For instance, a statement recorded in the “heat of the moment” or related to a startling or upsetting event and spoken spontaneously under the stress of the moment.
A child’s statement relating to any form of sexual abuse if it’s taken under reliable circumstances such as with a counselor or when there is corroborating evidence.
Ask Your Attorney
An attorney can tell you what is and isn’t admissible in family court and can help steer you toward relevant, admissible information for your unique case.