Part 5 on…
THE GOLDEN RULES OF LITIGATION
5. CONFIRM THE FACTS WITH EVIDENCE
Like we discussed in Part 4, legal disputes are often about the facts.
The disagreement might be about what you said or promised to do, whether you did it, how you did it, why you didn’t do it, what care arrangements you can give your child, whether your child is denied a “meaningful relationship” with you, whether you were properly notified about a problem, whether your ex was willing to negotiate child care arrangements in good faith.
These types of issues are all issues of fact.
Disputes about the facts are decided on the evidence presented by both parties. Most cases are easily won or lost on the strength of a party’s evidence. So it is essential that you use reliable evidence to support the facts that you assert (say is true) or any fact that may be disputed.
Remember, as one member put it,
“Expect her to lie. Expect them to believe her. Expect no fairness. Expect to need mountains of evidence to prove your case.”
Evidence comes in many forms: verbal, written, even pictorial. Just about anything you can think of that can verify something can be used as evidence. For instance, hand-written agreements, formal contracts, invoices, receipts, quotes, bank statements, telephone records, government documents, expert reports, scale models, plans, letters, diary entries, journal entries, photos, videos, the testimony of witnesses, can all be used as evidence.
Even notes taken at the time of an event might prove valuable as evidence later on. This is why it’s important throughout the preparation of your case to keep an accurate record of all developments. Obtaining the right evidence can be time consuming so you will need to collect your evidence as soon as possible. Also, with all evidence you wish to use, make sure you look at it very carefully.
Does it say what you expect it says?
A word of warning: quality not quantity is what counts. Quality evidence ties in with exactly what you are asserting and directly verifies one or more elements of your case.
If it is indirect, vague, ambiguous or spurious, reject it and try if possible for better evidence. Sometimes though, evidence that merely favours rather than confirms your version of the facts may be the best you can get. Although this isn’t ideal, it might be more than your ex has.
Above all get witnesses, especially professionals (teachers, doctors, therapists if any) involved with your former partner and kids.
Potential witnesses include: extended family; school professionals; neighbours; parent volunteers; day care, medical professionals (as in your GP); adult activity leaders.
Other than court-appointed professionals (best avoided wherever possible), people who see you with your children and/or otherwise know you personally are going to be your best witnesses.
Your Witness List must be exhaustive.
Remember, not everyone will support you, nor will they be available when you need them. So think of everyone you can. Then work out what facts they can prove by their testimony.
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