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Can I Use Character Witnesses in My Illinois Divorce? 

Posted on in Divorce

Kane County divorce lawyerIn a high-conflict divorce where you and your spouse are unable to agree on anything, much less who should have custody or parental responsibilities for your child, character witnesses can be a valuable advantage to help you prove that living with you is in your child’s best interests. Here, we will explore the kinds of character witnesses you might use, as well as what a witness does and what you should do if a witness is reluctant to testify.

Types of Witnesses

There are essentially three types of witnesses that might appear in divorce proceedings. An independent expert witness, such as a court-appointed psychologist, testifies about a specific topic but does not work for either spouse. A controlled expert witness likewise testifies about a specific topic, but is retained or paid for by one of the parties.

A lay witness–the most common type of character witness–is not an expert, and ideally is someone who is not biased in your favor. This could be a teacher, a babysitter, a neighbor, or anyone else who has seen interactions between you, your spouse, and your children. A character witness can testify regarding your favorable parenting abilities, or regarding your spouse’s unfavorable abilities. Family members may be seen as biased in your favor, so getting a variety of character witnesses may be more beneficial in supporting your case.

How Long Does it Take to Be a Witness?

Generally, a lay witness’s appearance in court is fairly quick–not more than half an hour. Expert witnesses may take longer, depending on the information they need to relay and what kinds of questions the attorneys and judge need to ask. However, because the length of court proceedings can be unpredictable, witnesses may have to wait for extended periods of time for their turn to testify.

What if a Witness Will Not Testify?

You can ask a witness to testify in court, but that is no guarantee that they will come. The safest way to make sure you have the witness testimony you need is by asking the court to issue a subpoena for that person to appear. If a witness is very reluctant to testify in court, you may ask for a signed affidavit.

It is best to have your divorce attorney notify a potential witness before serving a subpoena, especially if you want them to testify in your favor. Witnesses may understandably feel nervous about testifying, and the more amicable you can make the experience, the better. You also do not want to be surprised by a witness who challenges your case.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

Dealing with a high-conflict divorce can be exhausting, but having a skilled team of St. Charles, IL divorce attorneys on your side can help. Goostree Law Group will handle your case with experience and compassion, and act aggressively on your behalf. Call our office today at 630-584-4800 for a free and confidential consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+IV&ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=3900000&SeqEnd=5400000 

https://www.illinoiscourts.gov/courts/supreme-court/courts-supreme-court-illinois-rules-of-evidence/

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