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How Can A Subpoena Be A Factor In A Family Law Dispute

July 31, 2021 Uncategorized

How Can A Subpoena Be A Factor In A Family Law Dispute

You can be obliged to serve or receive a summons if you’re involved in a family law dispute. If you don’t know what a subpoena is, it’s basically a tool that lawyers can use to force the other party in a dispute to do something like provide information, documents or other forms of evidence in connection with the dispute.

A subpoena is not just a request; it’s a demand. Compliance with the subpoena is a must unless your attorney objects to it. To fight a subpoena, you have to have a legitimate reason, which can be a big hurdle. For example, if the information sought is highly relevant to the lawsuit, the psychiatrist may refuse to comply with the subpoena on the grounds of doctor-patient confidentiality, but even this is not absolute.

Now that we know the power of a subpoena, let’s see what role it can play in a family law dispute.

Why do I need a subpoena in a family dispute?

If you are involved in a divorce, custody dispute, spousal support dispute or similar issue, a summons will be issued. In California, there are many different types of subpoenas that ask people to do different things. Although there are no specific rules for family law cases, there are some commonly used rules in family law disputes.

A civil summons to appear in person or at a hearing

Such subpoenas are issued when a party wants to compel someone to testify at a hearing or trial. This type of subpoena can be helpful in getting information from people who only know what the other person might know.

For example, a party’s employer may be subpoenaed to obtain information about that party’s income. This could reveal whether a partner has voluntarily accepted a pay cut, deferred pay, bonuses or commissions, or other income information that could affect spousal or child support.

Summons a summons to appear in a civil court and produce documents at a trial or hearing

This is a subpoena requesting certain information from a witness during a trial or evidentiary hearing. In most cases, this will be for documentation or financial records, but other evidence may also be required.

Under the previous example of a subpoena, the party seeking a subpoena could require the employer to provide documents on the other party’s agreement to seek damages. This can include email exchanges on the subject, or filling out a form to initiate the agreement. This can prove that the party’s claims of financial hardship are not true or that the party is deliberately fabricating them.

A summons for business records

A subpoena can be used to obtain almost any type of business document. In a divorce case, it could be bank statements, credit card statements, brokerage statements, medical records, law enforcement records, work records — you name it, available through subpoenas. This summons is particularly important because it can be served by someone who suspects the other party of hiding assets.

Let’s go back to our example. Suppose the claimant notices that the other has a new car, or that they have pictures of Cancun on their social media. The claimant wanted to know where the money for these purchases came from, as the other claimed to have financial problems. A subpoena for business records could force as many documents as possible to reveal how the transactions were conducted and whether the money was stashed away somewhere.


Summonses, whether issued or received, should not be treated lightly. Failure to comply with a summons is considered contempt of court and can result in substantial fines or even imprisonment. If you are charged with a family law matter, you should always seek legal advice on how to deal with it.

At Spodek Law Group experienced lawyers can assist you with complex family law issues, please contact us. For more information about our services, please contact our attorney.



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