Crystal Wright | January 11, 2024 | Family Law
Obtaining information and evidence is a crucial step in a family court action. The discovery process allows you to request documents and information from the opposing party. However, there are times when you might need evidence from someone who is not involved in the family court proceeding.
Obtaining documents from a third party can be challenging. They usually claim confidentiality or another legal ground for withholding the information. However, the court can issue a subpoena duces tecum to compel the third party to turn over the documents.
All subpoenas must comply with Georgia law. A subpoena duces tecum is also known as a subpoena for the production of documentary evidence under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated §24-13-23.
Using a Subpoena Duces Tecum in a Georgia Family Court Case
A subpoena duces tecum requires a party to present documents for inspection and copying. The person may be required to appear in court. However, the subpoena may require the party to have the documents available at their location or appear at an attorney’s office with the documents.
In many cases, a party receiving a subpoena duces tecum will make copies of the requested documents and send them to the attorney’s office. If the attorney receives the documents in advance, the person is released from appearing at the time and date on the subpoena.
Common Uses of a Subpoena Duces Tecum in a Georgia Divorce Case
There are many uses for a subpoena for the production of documentary evidence in a divorce case.
A divorce lawyer may use a subpoena duces tecum to obtain copies of:
- Employment files
- Mortgage statements
- Bank records
- Financial planning information
- Credit card statements
- Retirement account statements
- School records
- In some cases, medical records
With a subpoena duces tecum, you can search for hidden assets or confirm the depletion of marital property. You can use the documents to verify other information that is relevant to your case.
Reasons for Objecting to a Subpoena Duces Tecum
Even though the subpoena is a legal court order compelling you to provide documents, there could be a valid reason for objecting to it.
Reasons for filing a motion to quash or modify a subpoena duces tecum include, but are not limited to:
- The information or documentation requested is protected information
- The subpoena is vague or ambiguous
- The distance to travel or the cost of production is excessive
- The subpoena does not give sufficient time to produce the documents
- The court issuing the subpoena lacks jurisdiction over the party
- The documents are irrelevant to the matter or issues before the court
- The subpoena was not served correctly on the responding party
The court will hold a hearing for the judge to hear arguments by the attorneys. The court can quash (nullify) or modify a subpoena if it is unreasonable or oppressive. The judge may also require the party requesting the documents to pay the reasonable cost of producing the evidence.
What Should I Do After Receiving a Subpoena Duces Tecum in a Georgia Family Court Case?
Contact your lawyer immediately to discuss your legal rights and responsibilities under the subpoena. You should not ignore it. If you fail to comply with the subpoena, the court can hold you in contempt.
Other Types of Subpoenas Used in Family Law Cases in Georgia
There are two other types of subpoenas used in family court cases.
The first is a subpoena for a person’s appearance. This subpoena requires the person to appear at a specific time and place to provide testimony. The testimony may be at a deposition or court hearing. In both cases, the person testifies under oath.
A subpoena compelling a person’s attendance is useful in family court cases to gather evidence from expert witnesses, reluctant witnesses, medical professionals, childcare providers, and other individuals who have information relevant to the case.
The court may also issue a subpoena for a person and documents. The subpoena requires the person to appear at a specific time and place to testify and to bring documents with them.
For example, you may subpoena a bookkeeper from your spouse’s business to testify at a deposition. The subpoena may require them to bring the books and records of the business so they can explain the relevant documentation.
As with a subpoena duces tecum, you do not want to ignore a subpoena to appear. Doing so could result in severe penalties by the court. Instead, contact a lawyer who can explain your rights and advise you on how to proceed.
Contact the Divorce Lawyers at Crystal Wright Law To Get Legal Assistance Today
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.