Discovery is a fact-finding tool that can be used during the pendency of a lawsuit. While the various methods are used throughout civil, family, and criminal cases, it is important to tailor discovery requests to the specific issues in your family law matter. Below are some examples of the different types of discovery available:
Form Interrogatories-Family: The Judicial Council has pre-approved interrogatories that specifically apply to family law matters. They can be accessed by clicking here. Simply check the boxes that apply to your matter, making sure to include a blank Schedule of Assets and Debts form (FL-142) if you check box #10.
Special Interrogatories: If you have additional questions that are not addressed in the Form Interrogatories-Family, then you can serve Special Interrogatories. Keep in mind that you cannot send more than 35 requests, unless you have good cause to do so. These requests should only ask for written responses, not actual documents (see below Demand for Production of Documents). Like all discovery, the requests must be relevant to the pending issues.
Demand for Production of Documents: This method is used to obtain actual documents from the other party (i.e. bank statements, pay stubs, retirement account statements, employment contracts, etc.). However, it is imperative that your requests are specific and only cover the relevant time period.
Request for Admissions: These requests ask the responding party to either admit or deny certain facts. The answers received can then be used in Court to prove a specific fact. Again, these requests have to be relevant to the pending issues. The requests also have to be prepared in a manner that is clear and unambiguous to the responding party.
Deposition: If the information you want cannot be obtained using the above methods, then consider a deposition. The deponent will be asked a series of questions and must respond as if they are testifying in Court. A court reporter must be present to transcribe the questions and answers. You can also videotape the deposition, but that is not required.
Discovery can be a very crucial and technical aspect to a family law matter. If questions are not propounded in the proper format, you will receive nothing more than objections from the responding party. There are other methods of discovery that may work better for your particular matter as well. Contact our office today to discuss a discovery plan that works best for you.