“Discovery” is a legal process created specifically to collect information in different types of law—including during a divorce. Discovery is typically issued in family law cases such as divorce; child support or custody cases when one side is under the belief that more information is needed.
The discovery process makes it easier for either party to gather information from the other party and thus be more prepared in court. Though the process can be time-consuming, parties can benefit greatly from it to assess the merits of the case, prepare for settlement negotiations, and potentially even prepare for trial.
Several parts comprise the discovery process. The Request for Production of Documents entails requesting for specific items needed for a party to present their case. These likely include the submission of income statements, bank account statements, credit card statements, and other types of documents. If parenting time or child custody is an issue, a party may also be asked to produce diaries, school records, and other information pertaining to your children.
Interrogatories refer to a list of written questions send to the opposing side, and giving them up to 35 days to send a response. The opposing side will also give you a list of questions in return, which you must respond to within the same time frame. Note that both parties must answer these questions on paper as if they were answering them while under oath. You must be as honest as possible, as providing false answers to interrogatories is considered a crime and can bring about serious legal consequences.
A deposition is critical in gathering facts about the case, ensuring that crucial questions are answered under oath, and evaluating how well a deponent would perform as a witness should the case proceed to trial later on. In the deposition process, the person being deposed must provide testimony or answer all questions under oath in the presence of a court reporter. Persons who may be deposed include you, your spouse, and any other individuals with critical information about your case.
A common tool in discovery is referred to as a subpoena. This is used to acquire records that may be able to help your case, but which the other side either cannot or will not produce. Common examples are subpoenas requesting credit card records, bank records, and information from a party’s employer.
Each party in a divorce or any other family law dispute is legally obliged to provide information requested by the other party, subject to certain limitations. If a party does not disclose a significant asset that already existed at the time of the divorce, then the divorce case may either be reopened or even set aside. Though there may be other ways to gather the information you need, there is no guarantee that such information will be deemed admissible in court.