Exchanging Discovery In Your Divorce Case
Discovery involves the parties exchanging requested information. Formal discovery will be drafted by your attorney and sent to the opposing party with a 30 day time limit for producing the information requested.
Information Obtained By Attorney
A good attorney will start to collect pertinent information from the client right away. The information asked will seem to be exceptionally personal, yet it is essential to give exact accounts with respect to each subject. Lawyers will need to know the basic information about all the parties involved including the children, if there are any. This basic information may include names, addresses, birthdays, and social security numbers. In order to achieve a fair result regarding the allocation of property and assets, the party will also need to provide information about salary, debts, and assets. This information may include but is not limited to stocks, real estate, investments, and retirement packages.
A common method to receive this information is through a questionnaire. Nonetheless, documentation of the information provided will be necessary. Documentation of pay stubs, mortgage statements, and bills will be fundamental to building up the full picture of what must be represented in the court’s division. The attorney will also gather credit reports of both spouses. In the event that the spouses own a home, or any real property, an appraised value of the property will need to be obtained. This is especially true if the parties involved disagree on the value given to the home.
Information can also come from social media. Courts are still deciding exactly how to incorporate social media in the context of evidence law. However, even if it cannot be used in a trial, social media can allow one to see how a particular party thinks. Posts and pictures can help uncover some essential components. A skilled attorney will caution about clients’ social media activity.
Once a divorce has been filed, attorneys are allowed different discovery methods to compel the other spouse to give information/documentation that can be helpful in litigation. These methods are available to both parties equally. As said earlier, discovery begins as soon as contact with the attorney has been made before the actual filing of the petition. However, the court will set a specific date by which all formal discoveries must be finished. The court gives each side plenty of time to complete their discovery and the date is typically set near the trial.
The two most common and useful methods of discovery include requests for production and interrogatories. Request for production means that the other party must provide some particular document, whether it be paystubs, property records, bank statements, etc. These requests are sent to the other party and can be very broad in scope. This means that as long as the documents requested are in some way attributed to the concerns of the divorce or may lead to admissible information, the opposing party must provide the documents. Because this is so broad, documents such as credit card statements and text messages are fair game as well. However, a spouse can object to the request. Typically, parties object on the basis of it being too broad or irrelevant. If the parties cannot agree, the court will decide whether certain documents have to be turned over to the opposing party. It is important to note that a court may punish a party if they do not turn over information through the discovery process.
Interrogatories are written inquiries that the spouse must answer. The appropriate responses are presented in writing and must be true. These inquiries can cover a similarly extensive variety of subjects just as requests for production. This implies that the questions can be personal. More limits are placed on this method of discovery by limiting the number of interrogatories each side is allowed. If a party needs more interrogatories they will have to get permission from the court before they are authorized to send more to the opposing party.
Lastly, depositions are essential when considering discovery methods. A deposition largely resembles trial testimony, just not in the courtroom. Just as in a trial, the witness will swear under oath and the opposing counsel will begin questioning the witness. The witness must answer the questions, as there will be a court reporter present making a record of the process. Seasoned counsel will take this time to question witnesses on points of contention. As stated, the questioning can get very personal and uncomfortable. The testimony recorded in a deposition can be used to assess information and can be used as evidence at trial.
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