When you are part of a family law case, like a divorce or custody modification, anytime you go to Court you will likely have “exhibits” and even an “exhibit book” if there are numerous exhibits. An exhibit is a document that will be used to provide proof of something. For example, a pay statement from employment can be used to prove your income. Tax returns from the last few years can help prove the financial status of a person or of the couple in a divorce.
An appraisal of a home can show its value so the Court can divide the assets. Even Kelley Blue Book or NADA values of vehicles along with the monthly bill showing the amount still owed on the vehicle can help determine the actual value—the equity—in a vehicle so the assets of the marriage can be balanced. After all, proving the value of the cars in a divorce is necessary to divide the assets fairly. Proof of insurance, medical bills, retirement accounts and bank account balances can all be proven by their monthly statements. Without the statements, it is likely the value cannot be proven.
Exhibits are not, however, always simple copies of everyday bills and values of assets. They can be complex documents that require an expert to explain what they mean and how they affect the case. Anytime a Child and Family Investigator or a Parental Responsibility Evaluator is appointed to a case for the purpose of assessing the custody issues, a report of the parenting expert’s recommendation must be filed with the Court. The report is an exhibit.
When a case involves more than just a few exhibits, an “exhibit book” may be produced to allow you to easily access each document during the Hearing. It is important—especially now when Hearings take place on WebEx video or phone, that you have the exhibits in front of you (best to have them printed out—not just on a computer) so you can immediately turn to the exhibit, identify it and answer questions about the exhibit. Your attorney can prepare the exhibit book for you to pick up, or to print out to make your own “exhibit book”.
At The Law Office of Jeanne M. Wilson & Associates, PC, we have many Clients who do not live in Colorado or are serving in the military and are located elsewhere. Our paralegal staff work with our non-local Clients to be certain the have the exhibits in a cohesive manner that makes sense and that each one is marked as “Exhibit __” and can be easily printed, put in order and accessed during the Hearing. For local Clients, an actual notebook of exhibits is prepared and the Client takes it home for use during the WebEx or phone Hearing.
The exhibit books are tabbed to make it easier not find what the attorney is telling you to find and there are page numbers so a certain part of a multipage exhibit can be easily found. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the exhibits. Know their contents, what they are, what the attorney is going to use each one to prove, how to identify it and describe what the family law attorney wants you to describe. Even just practicing finding the specific tabs and page numbers is helpful since at the Hearing on video or phone, you will be nervous and trying to locate something confusing could feel chaotic and throw you off course.