“What Is A Motion to Quash In A Family Law Case?”

Although a motion to quash can sometimes refer to a proceeding to dismiss a case because there is already a case for the same issues in a different jurisdiction (such as the same divorce being filed in two different counties, one by each spouse), generally the term is used in reference to a motion filed to quash a subpoena.

Subpoenas are used to make third parties (people not a part of the case as a party) either give testimony or produce documents. Unlike with document requests or questions directed to a party for testimony, you cannot simply object to these requests. Instead, after a meet and confer process (intended to keep the matter out of court, but not often very successful) a motion to quash may be filed to prevent the third party from responding to the request.

One of the most common situations is where one side subpoenas the other’s medical records in an inappropriate manner. This can also apply to psychological records. A motion to quash will put the issues before the judge, who will decide if the subpoena is appropriate or violates a privilege or privacy right.

Another area that can come up is an employee’s records with an employer. For instance, sometimes and attorney will subpoena an entire employee record (which can go back 30 years) just to find out the current pay rate or the reason for being laid off or fired. This is inappropriately broad, and not relevant to the case, and judges will often grant motions to quash in these circumstances.

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