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What is Discovery in a Divorce

In contested divorce cases, it is not uncommon for one spouse to know very little about family finances, assets, debts, or their spouse’s income. This could happen for several reasons, but it is because their spouse was responsible for handling the financial aspects of their lives while they were married.  Even in situations where both parties are certain that they are familiar with the other party’s finances, it is important to confirm that full disclosure has been made under oath. What is Discovery in a Divorce

To ensure that there is full disclosure between the parties, it is important for both parties to participate in full discovery during the divorce process before potentially going to trial. Your divorce attorney in Birmingham can help ensure you receive all of the proper documentation and evidence you need to make an informed decision during your divorce.

The discovery phase of a contested divorce is the information gathering phase where each side obtains information and evidence from the other side. During this phase, each party’s divorce attorney in Trussville, or wherever you live, will collect the necessary information to address the disputed issues in the divorce. This includes detailed information about things such as marital assets, marital debts, child custody arrangements, and other issues relevant to the case. 

Discovery also allows each side to understand what evidence will be presented by the other party should the case end up going to trial. The goal here is to make certain that each side has the same information about the case, which will lead to more fair negotiations.

Information is gathered during discovery using the following legal tools:

  • Interrogatories.
    These are lists of detailed questions asked by one party in a divorce of the opposing party. They are used to delve into specific questions regarding assets, debts, and faults of a divorce. Interrogatories must be answered truthfully under oath.
  • Requests for Admission.
    These allow for one party to ask the other to admit to information and to identify issues that are not in dispute. If requests are not answered within 30 days, they are deemed admitted by the court.
  • Requests for Production.
    These are formal requests for specific documents such as witness lists, physical evidence, financial statements, and written statements.
  • Depositions.
    These are sworn testimonies that are taken from the involved parties. They allow attorneys insight into how a witness will testify at trial, and what a witness will say. Typically, depositions will be taken at the divorce attorney’s office in the presence of a court reporter.
  • Subpoenas.
    These are court ordered demands that are used to request information from people or entities that are not parties to the lawsuit. A subpoena duces tecum requires the person receiving the subpoena to produce the documents requested in the subpoena. A subpoena ad testificandum requires the person receiving the subpoena to appear to testify. In civil cases, subpoenas are often used to obtain information that may help settle someone’s claim. 

If someone does not comply with a discovery request, this could lead to serious consequences and a local divorce attorney can help. Not complying with a discovery request may include not answering questions truthfully, responding late, or not responding at all. In these situations, a judge may fine you or, in severe cases, put you in jail. 

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