Is it important to have a court reporter present during a custody case?

Historically, many courts paid for the service of a court reporter, however, times have changed and it is often the responsibility of one or both attorneys or law firms to foot the bill if they feel the presence of a court reporter is necessary.

So the question has become this- is a court reporter necessary?

The role of court reporter, in the legal world, is to transcribe a deposition, hearing or trial with complete accuracy. The resulting document should reflect a verbatim account of all testimony. A good court reporter is proficient in the English language and is able to capture the words and emotion behind the testimony including breaks in thought and hesitations in speech such as “umm…” and “uh…”. In addition, a successful court reporter possesses the following qualities and abilities:

  •         Proper grammar and spelling
  •         A familiarity with the spelling and meaning of legal terminology
  •         An extensive understanding of legal proceedings such as depositions, hearings and trials
  •         Proficiency in transcribing every word that is spoken with speed and accuracy
  •         Knowledge of people’s names and spelling of those names including the judge and attorneys
  •         Ability to sit for long periods of time
  •         Must be able to listen to and document information simultaneously
  •         Extensive knowledge of the technology they are using to capture the proceedings
  •         Proper licensure and certifications as required by individual state and federal requirements


How will hiring a court reporter help build your child custody case?

It is no secret that family law can be riddled with emotion and conflicting information from both sides. The decision to separate and finally divorce, does not come easy for most couples and the resulting emotion is often anger towards each other. When there are children involved, it becomes even more complicated with the crucial details of custody and child support. In cases such as child custody during a contentious divorce, having a written document that accurately represents every word, sound and reaction from all witnesses can be essential to building and representing the strongest case possible for your client. It can also prove vital if you are looking to appeal a decision

During the Deposition Phase

In preparation for your case going to court, the attorneys will have access to the official transcript from the deposition. In having a written account of all witness testimony including that of the parents, you will be able to determine the best witnesses, for your client, when it comes time to testify in front of a judge. Additionally, understanding the thoughts and opinions of the other parent and his or her witnesses, will likely prove vital in preparing your side and avoiding curveballs in front of the judge.

Appealing a Custody Ruling

It is very difficult to appeal a custody ruling in family court. Once the ruling has been determined, a parent cannot ask for an appeal simply because he or she disagrees. Rather, it must be proven that the court ruled in error. Without an official transcript of the proceedings, proving that is nearly impossible.

As an attorney, you would be remiss if you did not do all that you could for your client. It is imperative that you have one of the unbiased San Francisco court reporters present during all phases of the custody case. In doing so, you are able to create the strongest case possible.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Veritext Legal Solutions for their insight into court reporting and how a court reporter can help with a custody case.