Is hearsay admissible in California family law?
My ex said at the hearing that one of my family members told her something about me and I'm wondering can the judge make a ruling on a point this way? I interrupted the hearing and got a reset on it but if this is how they're going to play how can a man get a fair hearing?
4 attorney answers
Depending on the law in your state and the type of matter, hearsay is not generally admissible and is subject to an objection. Hearsay is clearly defined so be sure to read up about it.
Having said that, there are some instances when it can be admissible. For example, a GAL may be able to use hearsay if they based their opinion on the statements. Further, in Civil DV matters, hearsay is admissible in some states.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to hire a lawyer and let them deal with these matters, They know the law and how to proceed.
Hearsay is not admissible UNLESS it falls within one of about 20 exceptions to the hearsay rule. This is why law students spend a semester studying evidence law, and those who want to do courtroom trial work spend even more time studying it after that.
Hearsay is not admissible unless it falls within an exception. From what you've told us here, it does not sound like an exception would apply here. That being said, there is no way to "un-ring the bell," as they say. Family Law hearings, especially those where the parties are unrepresented, are frequently inundated with hearsay; the court is not supposed to consider inadmissible hearsay and I would like to think that most do not. If the issue of contention here is property or financials, the Court will be relying on the declarations submitted under penalty of perjury by you the other party. If the issue is child-custody (and I'll bet a nickel it is,) the court will be relying on other factors such as the declarations submitted by the parties and any other relevant evidence (such as evidence of domestic violence.) If necessary, the court has options as far as ordering various evaluations done by professionals who see this kind of thing everyday. Speak with your lawyer concerning your options. If you're unrepresented, a consultation with a family law attorney would be worth the time and money as far as discussing your options.
Expect hearsay evidence to be admitted into evidence if no one objects. If one objects (not the judge), the other should be prepared to state any and all exceptions to the Hearsay Rule. The exceptions are defined in the California Evidence Code. Good luck.
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