Building your case for a divorce or a child custody trial can be a long process. You and your lawyer will likely spend a lot of time pulling together evidence from various sources, including electronic and paper evidence. Testimony from witnesses can sometimes be a vital piece of your case’s puzzle. In some situations, it may be necessary to issue subpoenas for your witnesses.
A subpoena is essentially a court order telling a particular person that he or she must appear at a court hearing to give testimony. Subpoenas are not needed for the other party in your case. If you need to make sure a different person, such as a teacher, a counselor, or a different family member, is present at your hearing or trial, issuing a subpoena is the way to make sure that person is there. To issue a subpoena, your attorney will simply serve a subpoena on the witness. The subpoena will tell the witness the time and place of the hearing. On some occasions, you may actually need documents from a particular witness, such as financial documents.. In such a case, your lawyer will issue what is called a “subpoena duces tecum”, which will instruct the witness exactly what documents to bring.
Subpoenas are not free. For each subpoena you have issued, you will have to pay a court fee as well as a fee to have the witness served by way of personal service. In addition, if you subpoena an expert witness, you will likely need to pay the expert’s hourly rate. Lay witnesses are also entitled to a small compensation for their time and travel under some circumstances.
Subpoenas are also not limitless in their power. The New Jersey rules provide that a New Jersey subpoena must be served inside the state. In other words, a subpoena served on a witness living in California would not be effective. If a subpoena is properly issue and served, then the person named in that subpoena must appear at trial. If he or she fails to do so, the court may find the witness in contempt.
Subpoenas for a hearing or trial also have different rules than those issued for a deposition. For depositions, the subpoena power does not extend as far; a subpoena can only compel a person’s attendance at the deposition if he or she is within 20 miles from his or her residence or place of business.
If you have questions about subpoenas and how to effectively use them in your divorce or custody case, contact us today at (732) 479-4711. We will talk to you about building your divorce or custody case through witness testimony.