Applicability of the Rules of Evidence to Your Family Law Case
The Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure (ARFLP) govern course of conduct and procedure for family law cases within the State of Arizona. Unlike other areas of the law, which strictly conform to evidentiary standards, the ARFLP does not. Regarding evidence, Rule (2), ARFLP states in relevant text that:
** all relevant evidence is admissible, provided, however, that the court shall exclude evidence if its probative value is outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, needless presentation of cumulative evidence, lack of reliability or failure to adequately and timely disclose same.
This is the same standard used for determining relevancy in non family law matters. However, because this is the only admission standard, it is much easier to admit what would otherwise be excludable evidence in non family law matters. For instance, normally items of a hearsay nature, meaning an out of court statement of another used for the truth of the matter asserted, would be excluded for its inherent unreliability in a non family court setting unless that or those statements were deemed qualified reliable by one or more hearsay exceptions. However, in a family court setting hearsay statements will be admitted into evidence without the need for a qualifying exception as long as they meet the relevancy standard.
One might say that use of the relevancy standard in family law cases is fair since often times many parties are unrepresented. However, people must be concerned that many times unreliable and otherwise excludable evidence is admitted merely because a judge deems it to be relevant.
Although it will create much more work and generally prolong your matter, a party that is concerned that many hearsay statements will be used against them, can request strict compliance with the rules of evidence.
Particularly, Rule (2) (B) (1), ARFLP states:
[u]pon notice to the court filed by any party at least forty-five (45) days prior to hearing or trial, or such other date as may be established by the court, any party may require strict compliance with all or part of the Arizona Rules of Evidence. If a hearing or trial is set upon less than sixty (60) days prior notice, the notice provided for in this paragraph will be deemed timely if filed within a reasonable time after the party receives notice of the hearing or trial date.
If you desire for strict compliance in your case, it is often necessary to hire or at least consult with an experienced family law attorney to better determine what and how to admit and present evidence in accord with the rules of evidence. For more information or to arrange your free consultation with an experienced Arizona Family Law Attorney at the Phoenix based Law Firm of Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC, call 602-515-0841.