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Use of Oral Testimony in Family Court

The court generally must receive any live, competent testimony that is relevant and within the scope of a hearing on a request for order. Fam. Code § 217(a); Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 5.113.

If the court finds good cause to refuse to receive live testimony, it must state its reasons on the record or in writing.In re Marriage of Binette (2018) 24 Cal. App. 5th 1119 (finding court had sufficiently stated its reasons for refusing to hear live testimony).

The Legislature has declared that access to justice requires that parties be able to appropriately address the court and present their cases. Elkins v. Superior Court (2007) 41 Cal. 4th 1337, 1344–1345, 1356, 63 Cal. Rptr. 3d 483, 163 P.3d 160 (Code Civ. Proc. § 2009 permits courts to decide motion matters on basis of declarations, but does not authorize introduction of such hearsay evidence at contested trials).

A party may appear by counsel at a hearing. In re Marriage of Deamon (2019) 35 Cal. App. 5th 476.

A party who wants to ensure that the other party personally appears at the hearing must serve the other party with a notice to appear. Code Civ. Proc. § 1987(b).

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