A subpoena is one of the most powerful tools a litigant or attorney has in their arsenal to develop and present important information and evidence to the court. In family law, subpoenas are vital because these are often contentious affairs. During family law cases, parties are commonly reluctant to produce the requested evidence or documents. In this common instance, you must ask the court to issue a subpoena to force the other party to comply with the request. Continue reading to learn the basic steps of having a subpoena issued for family law court.
Steps to Issue a Subpoena for Family Law Court
In a nutshell, you must fill out the form, file it with the court, and have the person served, and submit an official notice to the court. With this powerful legal document, the individual will be held legally responsible to comply or produce the specified evidence or documents.
Fill Out the Form
The first step to issue a subpoena is to fill out the appropriate subpoena form. While each state’s requirements may vary, most of the information will be the same. You must provide your name underneath the defendant or plaintiff field. Below the name field, you should find boxes for civil and criminal. Family law matters are classified as civil issues, so you should check civil. Then fill out the address and other requested information of the person who is being subpoenaed.
The “You Are Ordered” Section
It’s important to check all of the appropriate boxes in the section titled, “You Are Ordered.” You must include the time and place if you are ordering someone to show up at a hearing. A few of the most common reasons family law courts issue subpoenas are to:
- To produce evidence or documents
- To require someone to provide a testimony at a deposition
- To require someone to provide a testimony at a trial
In any case, make sure you check all of the options that apply to your case.
Issuing the Subpoena
Finally, fill out the rest of the information, such as your address, name, and contact phone number. Then sign and date the document. If you aren’t an attorney, you should check with your respective family law court because you may have to get permission of the court to issue the subpoena. Most states do require an attorney in order for the subpoena to be issued.
Serving the Subpoena
Since family law matters can be difficult for all parties, it’s best to serve subpoenas by certified mail. However, you can choose to use a personal service, which involves a process server delivering it directly to the person by hand. It’s important for the individual delivering the subpoena to be over the age of 18 and be someone other than you. Simply put, you cannot provide personal service delivery for yourself because it is illegal and can further intensify the already messy family law conflict. Doing it yourself can even lead to violence. In addition, doing personal service yourself will cause your proceedings to be dismissed or cause a delay.
Filing with the Court
After the subpoena has been delivered through personal hand delivery or by certified mail, you should file the form with the appropriate family law court. To do so, send a copy of the form with a short letter letting the court know that the individual has been subpoenaed.
In any case, filing a family law subpoena is confusing if you do not have previous experience. Instead of doing it alone, contact a San Francisco Bay area divorce attorney for assistance.