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.
about building your divorce or custody case through witness testimony.

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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