Monday, September 11, 2017

Q: What's an evidentiary hearing? The judge just ordered that at my motion yesterday

Q: What's an evidentiary hearing? I was in court yesterday for a motion, and the judge ordered that my husband and I get a date for an evidentiary hearing. I have no idea what that means.

A: An evidentiary hearing is a mini-trial on one issue in a case. It sounds like you may be in a divorce case, so I assume that you and your husband will have a chance to show what "evidence" you have to plead your case.

This might be about custody after the divorce, for example, so this means that you would need to bring (and/or request the other side to bring) evidence to court to show whether custody should be shared, or joint custody. The judge (or a referee, perhaps) will listen to the evidence, perhaps the testimony of the parties, and whoever else the parties might bring to testify. At some point (not necessarily at the hearing), the judge will issue an opinion (another word for his or her decision on this issue), which will be binding on this issue in this case.  ** if it is about custody, focus your thinking on the best interests of the child factors, which can be found here:

I highly recommend that you do some discovery in advance of the hearing. If this means hiring an attorney, so be it, because you will only get one shot to make your case. If you aren't prepared for the hearing, and you try to appeal a decision, the appeal can easily be shot down if it's shown that you could have presented the same evidence at the hearing.

Discovery would be gathering evidence you need, either from your own records, or from the husband's records. For example: custody factors include the mental and physical health of the parties. If you want to include that information, you may need to request it from a medical provider. Your attorney would be able to request it on the correct court forms. This would be an advantage if, perhaps, you wanted to argue that your husband's health is too poor for him to be able to care for the children, or that he has mental health issues to the extent that he can't care for children properly, as his own mental health issues may interfere.