I am in a custody dispute regarding my 2 teenage children, never married to their mother but lived together until kids were 8 and 9. I suspected child abuse over a year ago when I filed my modification petition. Children were isolated from me for a year, w/ occasional phone contact. In December, my younger child was removed from her mother and placed with my wife and I after her mother caused a significant injury. It took several months to get the dhs summary report. In the meantime, we have had 2 pre trial coferences and have 3rd scheduled in May. My kids mom lies excessively in court and I have documents proving her lies, but the judge does not seem interested in seeing it. The dhs report clearly shows the level of abuse and control my kids have been subjected to and I would like to submit it as evidence at our next hearing but I am not sure the judge will look at it. I am wondering if evidence is allowed at pre trial conferences or does it have to wait until the actual trial? Is there a special way to submit such documents? Other documentation I have are timelines, receipts for transportation, Facebook messages and text screenshots from mother denying me access to the kids.
And you haven't hired a custody attorney yet? What are you waiting for?
Be sure to designate "best answer." Please be aware that each answer on this website is based upon the facts, or lack thereof, provided in the question. To be sure you get complete and comprehensive answers, based upon the totality of your situation, contact a local attorney who specializes in the area of law that involves your legal problem. Diane L. Gruber has been practicing law in Oregon for 27 years, specializing in family law, bankruptcy, estate planning and probate. Note: Diane L. Gruber does not represent you until a written fee agreement has been signed by you and Diane L. Gruber, and the fee listed in the agreement has been paid.
Generally evidence is not submitted at pretrial conferences. These events are for scheduling, confirming that everyone has complied with court requirements (i.e., parenting classes and mediation), and, sometimes, trying to negotiate a settlement. Evidence is introduced at hearings on motions or at trial.
To introduce evidence, one must comply with the Oregon Evidence Code, ORS chapter 40. This law can be viewed online at http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/chapter/40 . As you can see, it is far too long and complicated to fully summarize here. Among the foundational principles are these: Most of the evidence that gets introduced in trial is sworn testimony - in a custody case, generally the testimony of the parties. Any documentary evidence (that is, documents) cannot be entered until a 'foundation' is laid for it, generally by testimony. The evidence must be relevant - which does not just mean, you feel like it's relevant, but it must specifically be geared towards some finding of fact that the court has to make. A copy of the evidence must be provided to each other party, and they must have the opportunity to opportunity to object to the evidence's admissibility before the judge sees it. This may be why the judge seems uninterested in your "evidence" - you haven't complied with all these rules.
Documents are often not admissible if they are offered to prove whatever is asserted in them, because of the hearsay rule (OEC 801). Hearsay is any out-of-court statement, offered in court to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Most documents you'd want to introduce are hearsay. For example, a report in which a DHS worker describes how abusive your child's mother is, is hearsay because you're asking the judge to accept the truth of the statement in the report, which was not written in court and whose author is not there to answer questions about it. In general, to have someone's experiences or opinions considered in court, that person needs to be present and subject to cross-examination. There are many exceptions to this rule, however.
The usual answer to questions on this board - the only truly correct answer in all cases - is "consult with an attorney in private." This question is a good example of why this is the case. To properly handle a trial, you need to be adept at understanding and employing these rules, to ensure that your case is made properly. You won't be able to do that with any number of message board posts. You need someone who really understands the rules, to review the evidence you have, reach out to potential witnesses and determine whether they should be called to appear, maybe issue subpoenas, and communicate your case to the judge. This is not something you probably have the training to do, or the objectivity to do for yourself. You need an attorney. If this case is a priority for you, spend some resources to get yourself one.
Please read the following notice: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and are not intended to constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or solicit business. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. Information not contained in these posts may create significant exceptions to the advice provided in any response. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br>
Sign up to receive a 5-part series of useful information and advice about child custody law.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline