Whether your divorce is heading to trial or a settlement, the discovery process provides valuable information about your spouse and the case.
Through formal discovery, you can request specific documentation, testimony, and other details from your spouse. The information gathered enables you to make informed decisions about how to negotiate or effectively argue for your rights in divorce.
Discovery Is Beneficial, Not Mandatory
A Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure is required in every California divorce. Each party in the divorce must complete these disclosures. The petitioner has 60 days from the time of filing to complete this requirement. The respondent has 60 days from the filing of their response. The mandatory forms include the Schedule of Assets and Debts and the Income and Expense Declaration.
A Final Declaration of Disclosure is not required in all divorce cases but may be needed when a divorce drags out for one year or longer.
Discovery is more investigative than preliminary disclosures and is an option that is highly advisable in many cases.
Informal discovery requests can also be made, but there are no consequences for failing to comply. Formal discovery requests must be answered, or sanctions can be sought in court. Discovery can ferret out inconsistencies, misconduct, and hidden assets that directly impact such divorce matters as child custody, child support, alimony, and property division.
Types of Formal Discovery
Your divorce attorney can use various discovery methods to obtain critical information that can determine how to best support your best interests.
Types of formal discovery in California are as follows:
- Interrogatories: Interrogatories are written questions that one party sends to the other. The questions must be answered under penalty of perjury. The receiving party must return the answers within 30 days of being served.
- Requests for Admission: This form of discovery asks the other party to confirm or deny specific facts. Statements that are not denied within 30 days are considered to be a confirmation/admission.
- Demand to Inspect Property: Either party can give a 30-day notice to inspect the property of the other party. Property includes real estate as well as personal property.
- Requests for Production of Documents: Common documents requested include tax returns, credit card statements, bank account statements, and pay stubs.
- Subpoenas: Witnesses can be compelled to appear in court through a subpoena. They must show up on the designated date and time or be subject to fines and/or jail time.
- Depositions: A deposition is when a witness answers questions under oath, typically in an attorney's office. A court reporter records or videotapes the proceeding. The deposed person may be told to bring documentation or answer other questions important to the negotiation or possible trial.
Discovery might include psychological evaluations, vocational exams, real estate appraisals, business valuations, or expert witness disclosures. Text messages, emails, and other electronic files can be requested.
All discovery efforts must be completed at least 30 days before a divorce trial begins.
Objections to Discovery Requests
Our seasoned attorneys at Gille Kaye Law Group, PC know to effectively use discovery to support our clients. We also have experience in objecting to discovery requests from opposing counsel. Some legal counsel might make outlandish requests that lack relevance. We push back on overly broad or vague questions or requests that are particularly onerous.
The Discovery Process Can Improve Divorce Settlement
Entering settlement negotiations or preparing for a trial without using discovery tools might lead to an inequitable result. If you believe your spouse is concealing information, formal discovery helps ensure you receive everything in which you are entitled.
Contact Gille Kaye Law Group, PC to learn more about the discovery process and other divorce strategies. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling (626) 340-0955.