What are Evidentiary Standards in Child Custody?

December 23, 2019

In New Jersey, married couples who decide to divorce must go through the mediation process. However, mediation does not work in every situation. That means that the couple’s divorce will end up at an evidentiary hearing, which is held before a judge. During this hearing, evidence will be submitted from both parties. Yet, not all evidence meets the rigorous standards of the law.

Why is Having the Right Evidence Important?

Most people have had bad experiences with hearsay or unsupported claims. For instance, an older brother might say that his younger sister told him that a girl down the street hit her. This is second-hand evidence and could possibly be untrue. On the other hand, if the little sister said the girl down the street did hit her, that would be a firsthand account. Firsthand accounts are far more reliable than second-hand, third-hand, or farther removed testimony.

In a divorce case, all evidence must meet evidentiary standards. Otherwise, it could end up in an unfair result for one of the parties. This is especially true when the couple is battling over child custody or support. As an example, if information from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) is brought into the divorce hearing, the information needs to meet evidentiary standards. If it does not, the judge cannot legally consider it as part of the eventual ruling.

What Evidence Meets Standards?

Evidentiary standards are a staple of the law regardless of the type of civil or criminal procedure. Many people talk about having clear and convincing evidence, which would not include subjective allegations or opinion. Another type of evidence falls under the auspices of beyond a reasonable doubt. It is a good practice to consider whether any evidence is beyond a reasonable doubt, including evidence used in a divorce or child custody trial.

Certain judges like to see a preponderance of evidence that points back to one conclusion. Though this may not always be the case, supporting evidence that leads to a relatively straightforward answer holds weight in the courts.

How Can a Divorcing Party Know If Evidence Meets Legal Standards?

Although it is possible to act as one’s own attorney during a divorce proceeding, it may not be a good idea if a divorce goes beyond the point of mediation. Gathering evidence that meets evidentiary standards can involve complex navigation of many systems, particularly if the DCPP or a similar organization is involved in the divorce hearing. A better solution is to work with a knowledgeable DCPP attorney who has divorce court expertise. That way, any evidence presented will be less likely to be thrown out or overlooked by the judge.

New Jersey DCPP Attorneys at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Help Those Facing DCPP Claims

If you are contemplating divorce in New Jersey, but are having problems related to child custody and DCPP claims, contact a New Jersey DCPP attorney at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker today. Call us today at 856-795-9400 or submit an online form for an initial consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we work with clients throughout South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Marlton, Medford, and Voorhees.

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