After you file for divorce, the discovery and investigation process begins. Discovery is a legal tool designed to gather information about parties involved in the divorce, or in other words, investigate parties and matters related to the case. During the discovery process, there are four different ways to gather information from the other party prior to your hearing. When used correctly, discovery can pinpoint arguments that you will be facing at trial or during negotiations in order to better prepare your argument or defense. The discovery process can be time consuming, frustrating and expensive. It may also be the only available investigating option to obtain information in a way that will be admissible in court.
4 Common Steps in the Discovery Process:
- Interrogatories: This list of questions is sent to the opposing party. Interrogatories must be answered truthfully, under penalty of perjury, within 15 days (30 days in limited circumstances). In some cases, the opposing party may object to answering the interrogatories if they have no bearing on the case or if they are arduous. A question should only be included in the interrogatories after you have made a reasonable attempt to obtain the information.
- Admissions of Fact: The admissions of fact is a list of short sentences that are recognized as fact by the party creating the list. The written list of facts is directed at the opposing party. The receiving party is asked to admit or deny each fact included in the list. A request for admissions of fact may also be served on any other party with pertinent information. If the other party does not respond within 30 days, it is the same as an admission of fact.
- Request for Production: This step is used to obtain documents that will benefit the case, such as bank statements, income statements, etc. When requesting documents from the opposing party, you must list items specifically and describe them individually or as a group/category. For example, written reports of each person you expect to call as an expert witness, all documents any expert witness relied on to form their opinion, photographs or videotapes, etc. of information related to the subject matter of the divorce, etc. These documents must be produced within 15 days (30 days in limited circumstances).
- Depositions: A deposition allows one party to take sworn testimony from the opposing party and any witnesses involved in the case. Testimony obtained during a deposition can be used in court in the event that a resolution is not reached and divorce court becomes necessary. Depositions are frequently videotaped and can be used in court to cast doubt on a witness’s contradictory testimony, refresh the memory of a forgetful witness, and take the place of live testimony (in the event the witness is unavailable, for instance if they have since passed away).
If you aren’t sure whether or not you have all the information you need to move forward with your divorce and you need the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney, please get in touch with Stanley-Wallace Law.