Question 108: In a divorce case, if a witness is required by the Court to attend the trial but that there is a proper reason for him or her not to attend (for example, he or she is attending a long term business trip, studying abroad in a foreign country, is receiving medical treatment or taking care of sick relatives, or living far away from the Court) can he or she not participate in the trial?

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Under the law, witnesses are obliged to be present at the trial if summoned by the Court. If they fail to attend, the Court may decide to have the witness escorted to the trial. In this case, the witnesses will be forced to be escorted to the trial by the police regardless of their will. However, the law provides that if the witnesses have proper reasons, then even when summoned by the Court, they are not required to be present at the trial. The current law does not specify which cases are considered “with proper reason”, as well as how to inform the Court such a reason (in writing or by phone), or when to submit this reason to the Court (must be before the hearing or possibly at the trial). Therefore, whether the reason is considered a valid reason, as well as whether it will be accepted or not will consequently depend on the decision of the Court and that of the Council of Adjudicators at the time of the opening of the trial. Of course, the Court also needs to consider all appropriate factors to assess as fairly as possible. For example, studying or working abroad long-term should be considered a proper reason for not being present at the trial. However, taking care of sick relatives while the spouses are able to ask someone to help in order for them to be present at the trial, the Court may not consider that a proper reason.

Witnesses do not have plausible reasons, but they shall not be escorted to trial if one of the conditions above mentioned is missing. In addition, in a case where the witnesses are minors, the Court is not allowed to escort them.

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