Evidence in Divorce
Since Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state, spouses seeking a divorce are under no obligation to prove that the other spouse cheated on them, deserted them, or otherwise failed to adequately perform their spousal duties. This means that many people seeking a divorce may assume that there is no need for them to present evidence in the proceedings. But when a divorce is contested, or there are questions about child custody arrangements or spousal maintenance, evidence in divorce may be very important. At Reddin & Singer, our Milwaukee divorce attorneys can help you assess which evidence may be important in your case and which evidentiary issues may pose challenges.Collecting Evidence in Divorce
If you are able to amicably reach a separation agreement with your ex-spouse and do not anticipate any contested issues in your divorce, it may be unnecessary for you to spend significant time collecting divorce-related evidence. For the many Wisconsin residents who are not so fortunate, however, evidence may be crucial to reaching the outcome that you want in your divorce proceeding.
When courts evaluate issues like custody arrangements and whether maintenance payments are necessary, they look at the evidence presented by the parties to determine an appropriate arrangement. It is not enough to simply state that you are the better parent to have full custody after a divorce; evidence is needed to back up these types of assertions. This may include evidence of your participation in your child’s extracurricular activities or schooling, statements from family and friends about your parenting, and proof of your work schedule and ability to accommodate the needs of your child. Likewise, if you are seeking spousal maintenance after you sacrificed your goals for the benefit of your spouse, it may be helpful to provide the court with evidence of opportunities that you turned down, how lost educational opportunities will affect your job prospects, and the types of expenses that you will need to meet after you are divorced.
Preparing yourself for a divorce may also involve collecting evidence that shows why your ex-spouse should not have primary custody or that they have engaged in domestic violence. If your ex-spouse has previously been abusive or threatening, you may wish to provide the court with voicemails, recordings, or emails that show these tendencies. If you believe that your spouse is hiding assets or attempting to deny you resources that you rightfully deserve, it may be helpful to submit financial evidence or testimony from an accountant or financial planner who is familiar with your situation. In all of these circumstances, you should keep in mind that only evidence that is legally obtained may be presented to a court during a divorce. For example, if you accessed your husband’s email without his permission, a court may not permit you to present emails that you obtained during your divorce hearing.Watching Out for Social Media
In this day and age, one of the most popular sources of evidence in divorce proceedings is social media evidence. Social media evidence may be used to portray spouses (or anyone) as poor parents, party animals, frequent drinkers, unfaithful partners, and any number of other negative portrayals. Taken out of context, posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all may be used to unfairly influence a court into thinking that one spouse or the other will be a better parent.
If you anticipate a divorce in the near future, it is often helpful to carefully limit or screen the social media in which you participate in order to avoid providing fodder for your spouse at trial. Conversely, if you believe that there is social media out there that accurately reflects your concerns about your ex-spouse and that is important for the court to see, you should attempt to download and save this evidence for presentation in upcoming divorce proceedings. Whether used to your benefit or against you, it is important to realize the impact of social media in shaping a dispute related to divorce.Seek Guidance from a Milwaukee Attorney When Gathering Evidence in Divorce
Because of the pivotal role that evidence may play in a divorce case, it is generally advisable to consult with an attorney about the types of evidence to collect prior to filing for divorce or after you have been served with divorce papers. At Reddin & Singer, our Milwaukee lawyers can discuss the types of evidence that are likely to be admissible under Wisconsin law and how to preserve any evidence that you have. We represent people in Milwaukee, Port Washington, Racine, West Bend, Waukesha, and other communities in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, West Bend, and Waukesha Counties. Contact our office today online or at (414) 271-6400 to set up a free initial consultation with a family law attorney.