If you subpoena the deadbeat (or someone else) to appear to answer questions about your back child support or his income and assets relevant to your back child support, he will be required by law to appear and answer your questions, but he will not be required to appear and provide any supporting documentation.  If you want documents such as bank statements, IRS tax returns, etc., you must file a Subpoena Duces Tectum.  This document directs the person to produce the documents in advance to the court, but not necessarily directly to you.  Upon reviving the documentation, the Judge can then decide if the paperwork received is relevant to your case.  If the information is relevant, it can be entered into evidence.

In order for you to have an opportunity to examine the documentation received, you will need to request that that from the judge, who may well let you look at them right there in the courtroom while other cases go ahead. Or, if necessary, the judge may postpone the case for a few days and arrange to have you examine the documents more thoroughly at another location, or if you have requested and have received copies of the documents, you may need to request a postponement in order for you to have the time to analyze the evidence.

Here are the steps:

  1. Download the Subpoena Duces Tectum Form from the Document Library
  2. Complete the form. See a sample in the Sample Letters/Forms/Language Section
  3. Be sure to describe the documents that you need, why they are relevant and how you believe that these documents are the key to helping you to collect your back child support
  4. Have the Form notarized
  5. Make two copies of each document
  6. File the subpoena with the clerk’s office
  7. Serve the deadbeat (or the person (s) you are subpoenaing
  8. Return the proof of service to the court clerk

Similar to a General Subpoena, you may have to pay a witness fee.  Before proceeding, read the how-to for Serving a General Subpoena

*Witness Fee

A Witness fee, similar to a jury duty payment stipend, is a small fee paying to the witness for his or her time.  States vary on amount of fees so you will have to check with your County Clerk’s office for what is customary.  Generally you can expect to pay somewhere in the area of $25-$35, plus mileage.

Some states require that you provide the witness fee in advance when the subpoena is served, and in some states you can pay on the day of the questioning.  A witness is also not required in all states so be sure to call and ask the particulars.  If the state in question does not require a witness fee then you don’t have to offer one, but be prepared in the event that they ask for one.  It is common practice and good form to provide your witness with the fee since it helps to cover the cost of transportation and such.  Also use your judgment as to whether a witness fee might encourage the witness to be willing to divulge information to you.

If you are concerned about whether you can afford the costs associated with a subpoena, including paying witness fees, consider filing for Indigent Status at the County Clerk’s office.  Search our blog and article area for information to help you understand what that is and how to utilize it.