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Hearsay Exceptions in Family Law Cases: Business Records of the Marital Household

Hearsay Exceptions in Family Law Cases: Business Records of the Marital Household

When exploring the nuances of family law, particularly in cases involving divorce or custody, understanding the role and admissibility of business records of the marital household becomes crucial. These records, often deemed hearsay in legal contexts, can fall under important exceptions in family law litigation.

In many homes, including mine, closets beside the master bedroom often store everyday documents like bank statements, medical bills, and daycare statements. These papers, typically overlooked unless needed for verifying payments, can suddenly gain immense importance during a divorce. In divorce litigation, it’s these commonplace documents that can become crucial evidence. While they might seem trivial, they can be pivotal in presenting a case to a judge.

However, family law attorneys face the challenge of presenting this information effectively in court and ensuring its admission into the record. For those outside the legal profession, it’s worth noting that law students spend an entire semester learning the “Rules of Evidence,” which teaches them how to present and get evidence admitted in trials.

Hearsay- What Is It and Why Is It Important to Your Family Law Case?

In legal circles, hearsay refers to the rule prohibiting witnesses from testifying in court about statements others have made outside the courtroom. This rule aims to ensure reliability, as the witness can swear to their own truthfulness, but not the truthfulness of external statements. However, in family law, certain exceptions to this hearsay rule exist.

One notable exception applies to business records, often critical in family law cases, like during temporary orders hearings or trials. These records, such as bank or school documents, must meet trustworthiness and authenticity criteria to be admissible. The hearsay rule does not apply to these records if they meet the necessary standards.

Hearsay Exceptions in Family Law Cases: Business Records of the Marital Household

Under the Texas Rules of Evidence, Rule 806(6), a client’s records can be admissible evidence in court if the client personally knows the information in the documents. The term “business records” extends to documents used in a business capacity, and Texas law also includes personal records under this hearsay exception.

What This Means for Your Family Law Case

This is all good and well, but ultimately you as a father or mother care about how these rules are going to impact your case that concerns your son or daughter. The bottom line as I can tell is that if you keep good records as a part of your adult life then your attorney should be able to offer those records into evidence and have them admitted into the record. A judge will look to a few factors when deciding whether or not a statement or record should be admissible in this context:

  1. Whether you as a the person offering the record or statement has maintained the document as in the regular course of your activities as a spouse or parent
  2. That you are relying upon the accuracy of the document
  3. That you are able to offer testimony that indicates that the documents are trustworthy

If you can check each of these boxes then the odds are favorable that you can get those records admitted into evidence. The benefit to having documentary evidence available is that while your testimony is critically important in a hearing, it is always helpful to have additional evidence to add clarity to what you are discussing.

This also highlights how critical it is to respond quickly and thoroughly to your attorney’s requests for you to produce documents and records that may be helpful as evidence in a trial or hearing. Your attorney needs time not only to prepare them for introduction during a hearing or trial but to formulate a strategy to do so bearing in mind the rule against hearsay.

Final Thoughts

Hearsay Exceptions in Family Law Cases: Business Records of the Marital Household

In conclusion, while hearsay typically limits the use of out-of-court statements in legal proceedings, business records of the marital household are a critical exception in family law cases. These documents, including financial and school records, provide essential, reliable evidence about the family’s situation. Understanding and leveraging this exception allows for a more accurate and fair representation of facts in family law disputes, ensuring that crucial information is considered in legal decisions.

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  1. Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case, Part Three
  2. Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case
  3. Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case, Part Two
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  8. Can a Parent remove My Child from the state of Texas or from the County or Country where I am living?
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Texas Bar Today Top Ten Badge June 2016[1]

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