When people think about witnesses in court, they often imagine criminal cases or personal injury claims. However, witnesses can also play a role in family law cases, including divorce.
If you are getting divorced, know that there could be witnesses called to testify. They can serve various purposes and typically come from a range of backgrounds, and they could have a powerful impact on the decision reached.
Types of witnesses
The types of witnesses called in a Minnesota divorce or other family law matter depend on the nature of the dispute. In general, there are a few types of witnesses that parties encounter.
- Personal - These include friends, family, and other people who might serve as character witnesses. They may have direct insight into a person's parenting abilities, decision-making skills, past behavior, and personal traits.
- Financial - A financial witness can explain complex or disputed economic issues. He or she might be a real estate agent, a business analyst, a forensic accountant, or other professional that has insight into specific financial matters.
- Psychological/medical - Witnesses for mental and physical wellness can be crucial in cases where a person's mental capacity is in question, or if there are children involved. These parties might testify regarding specific medical conditions, drug or alcohol addictions, and the impact they have on a person's life. If the parties' child is a patient, the witness may testify about the child's well-being and which parent best serves it.
- Parenting Evaluator - A parenting or custody evaluator is a professional who regularly offers opinions on a child's well-being and needs in terms of custody.
As the Hennepin County Family Court explains, witnesses should have first-hand knowledge regarding the matters to which he or she is testifying. Someone with specialized knowledge -- like an accountant, doctor, or technical professional -- can be an expert witness. These witnesses' opinions can have a very influential impact on the court.
Arranging for and responding to witnesses
Choosing witnesses wisely and understanding how to question their credibility or knowledge, if necessary, can be crucial to your case and the outcome. As such, it would be prudent to consult an attorney regarding the use of witnesses in your case.
While witnesses are not necessary in every family law case, they can serve important functions. As such, it can be wise to inform yourself about how you might utilize witnesses in your divorce.