Proving a fact in court

In court, it's not enough to know a fact - you have to be able to prove it.  That means you have to be able to convince a jury or a judge that the fact is most likely true.  Proving a fact requires evidence - something reliable to help convince the jury or judge.  This chart shows a way to decide what evidence you can try to use to prove a fact.

Issue in Dispute chart:  For each issue you wish to pursue, fill out a chart. 

Issue in Dispute

Write the issue here:

 

What do you want the court to order?  (Or, what fact do you want the judge or jury to believe?)

 

 

Your arguments: (Why should the court give the order you want?  Why should the judge or jury believe the fact you are stating?)

Specific examples to support your arguments:

Examples of proof you can use to support your arguments:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Example One – Custody issue

Issue in Dispute (Custody Example)

We cannot agree on where our children should live.  I want them to live with me and he wants them to live with him. 

What do you want the court to order?  (Or, what fact do you want the judge or jury to believe?)

I think the children should live with me primarily and visit with him.

Your arguments: (Why should the court give the order you want?  Why should the judge or jury believe the fact you are stating?)

Specific examples to support your arguments:

Examples of proof you can use to support your arguments:

I have been their primary caregiver.

-I quit my job after the birth of our first child and have not resumed working. 

-Our children have never been in daycare and with babysitters only on rare occasions.

-I take children to all commitments (school, doctor, activities)

• Employment records

• Tax records

• Correspondence between the parties

• Witnesses

• Doctors reports/records

• School records

Our oldest child has special medical needs that I can best manage.

-Our oldest son has asthma and severe allergies that require special medications and treatments.  I have been trained to manage his illnesses and father has not.

• Prescriptions

• Doctors reports/records

• Training certification

The other parent works long hours during the week and I don’t want our children in daycare.

-The other parent is in sales and the position requires travel frequently through the week.  He also works long hours and is rarely home before the children’s bedtime.

• Employment records

• Tax records

• Correspondence between parties

• Travel receipts

 

Example Two – Divorce issue

Issue in Dispute (Divorce Example)

I need financial support from my spouse after our divorce.

What do you want the court to order?  (Or, what fact do you want the judge or jury to believe?)

I think I should receive money from her for the rest of my life.

Your arguments: (Why should the court give the order you want?  Why should the judge or jury believe the fact you are stating?)

Specific examples to support your arguments:

Examples of proof you can use to support your arguments:

I supported my spouse when she was earning her advanced degree in school.

-I did not go to school and worked so she could finish her degree and earn an advanced degree.  She was supposed to do the same for me but never did. 

• Employment records

• Tax records

• School records

• Witnesses

I managed all the household responsibilities during our marriage including caring for our children.

-I cared for the children and we both were against daycare.

-I managed all of our children’s commitments (school, doctor, activities)

-I ran the household (cleaning, cooking, shopping, organization) for more than 15 years.

• Witnesses

• Doctors reports

• School records/degrees

• Tax records

My spouse earns plenty of money to help support me.  I cannot earn as much.

My spouse earns at least $150,000 per year without commissions (and has the potential for annual commissions too).  I applied for more than 10 jobs and found only part time work at just above minimum wage. 

• Employment records/Pay stubs

• Tax records

• Correspondence between parties

• Copies of job applications/responses

• Proof of age

• Social Security Statements

Q: How can I gather the information and documents listed under "Examples of Proof" (third column)?

A: Find any of these papers that you already have.  If the other party has the documents, you may be able to get them by using the "discovery" process.

Read more about Maryland Circuit Court Discovery here.  (In Maryland, divorce and custody cases are decided in Circuit Court.)

Read more about Interrogatories in Maryland District Courts here. (Interrogatories are one form of discovery available in District Court.)

The charts and examples above are adapted from the Custody and Divorce Self-Help/Limited Scope workbook.  However, the idea is the same for proving any fact, in any court.

Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2018.”