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Exhibits at Trial in Colorado Divorce and Family Law

In divorce AKA dissolution, as well as child custody and support cases, some matters are resolved agreement between the parties and some go to trial where a court decides the issues. If you do go to trial, there are several steps to prepare. One important step is planning and preparing your trial evidence in the form of exhibits.

Exhibits. Documentary evidence is admitted in the form of exhibits testified to by witnesses. Exhibits are any item, other than testimony, that can be perceived by the court and presented at trial. It is not unusual for testimony to be contradictory. There is a substantial amount of "he said, she said" testimony in domestic relations cases. Exhibits can provide collaborative support for factual assertions. They are explained and substantiated in the course of testimony by the person who can identify the exhibits and state what they are. Once such foundation has been laid for the exhibit, then counsel can request that the exhibit be entered as evidence.

Common exhibits in domestic relations cases are:

  • Summaries of large amounts of information;
  • Sworn financial statements;
  • Financial records;
  • Bank statements;
  • Credit card statements;
  • Business records;
  • Income tax returns;
  • Photographs;
  • Audio or video recordings;
  • Social media postings;
  • Text messages and e-mails; and
  • Real property documents.

There are several rules that govern exhibit admission. Copies of the exhibits must be provided to the other party at least seven days prior to the hearing or trial or earlier if required by the court. C.R.C.P. 16.2(h)(2). Exhibits must be pre-marked for identification. The Petitioner marks with numbers and the Respondent marks with letters. It is necessary to lay a foundation for some exhibits to establish authenticity and context for the admission. A foundation consists of testimony from a witness with knowledge that the exhibit is relevant and authentic. C.R.E. 401, C.R.E. 901, and 902.

Evidence books are utilized for in-person proceedings. Documentary evidence is placed in a book for the reference of the parties and the court. Many judicial officers will reference the electronically filed evidence instead however, as they became accustomed to doing during COVID. Four books are prepared, one for each counsel, one for witnesses and one for the court.

Exhibits require various levels of foundation to support admission into evidence. Some exhibits may not need much foundation, such as a SFS submitted by the party to the court. Others may require more, such as the basis for text messages, e-mails or recordings which are potentially subject to manipulation. Opposing counsel can object to the admission of exhibits. There are a number of possible objections under the Colorado Rules of Evidence. Hearsay is a common objection. Hearsay is an out of court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted. C.R.E. 801 and 802.

Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs

A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs divorce and family law matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. This allows you to focus on to a better future. Divorce and family law matters are difficult to navigate alone.

Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law is a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who protects your best interests and ensures that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 for a free 30-minute informational consultation or complete our online form.

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