Exchange of Documents and Information – “Discovery”

Once the petition is filed and the other spouse is served with the papers, the discovery process will start. In the discovery process the spouses will exchange information about their finances, properties, assets, income, debt and liabilities.

This information will be used by the spouses and their respective attorneys as well as the court to decide on how to divide property and to decide the other issues of the divorce – alimony and child support.

Discovery can be an informal exchange of information and documents or a can follow many rigid procedures. The following are some of the more rigid procedures used for discovery:

Document Production

The spouse provide each other with all the documents relating to the marriage, the respective finances, assets, income, debts, etc. A party can request to see any document that is even remotely connected to the divorce and the related issues – property division, alimony, child support and custody.

Interrogatories and Requests for Admissions

A spouse can sent an interrogatory to the other requiring the other spouse to provide his or her version of the facts. You can ask specific questions or use a pre-printed interrogatory forms. You can ask a broad range of questions. It could be a broad question like “what is your present relationship with your children” to specific questions like “how much did you pay as taxes last year.” If you receive an interrogatory from your spouse, speak to your attorney. Your attorney will review the questions and decide which questions to object to.

Although they are rarely used in divorce proceedings, “Requests for admission” can be very powerful tools. It basically asks the other spouse to admit or deny certain facts relating to the divorce and issues related to the divorce. Providing incorrect or false answers will result in penalties.

Depositions

In a deposition, your attorney will ask your spouse questions and your spouse must answer them. A court reporter will make a transcript of the questions and answers. Depositions are sworn statements. A deposition can be short or lengthy lasting for a few weeks. The main reasons for using depositions are to find out what the other side has and to do a practice trial – see how the other side responds to the questions to determine the strategy for trial. If your spouse has requested that you depose, speak to your attorney for advice on developing a strategy. You should never guess an answer. If you don’t know the answer or are not sure, say “I don’t know”. Never volunteer any inform. Your answers should be to the point and brief.

Things to Remember

The discovery process will most likely reveal everything at some point or the other, especially in divorce cases where the spouses don’t see eye to eye.

Do not conceal anything from your attorney. Your attorney should know all the facts to be able to assist you.

Honest is the best policy. If you lie and get caught, you will be in bigger trouble. Not only will you lose the case, you can also be tried for perjury.

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