Divorce discovery is part of the process of a contested divorce that may or may not proceed to trial.
Divorce discovery includes two main parts: interrogatories and requests for production.
Both the interrogatories and requests for production can be enormous opportunities to uncover evidence and,or, force your ex to tell the truth OR purger themselves.
Also, discovery in divorce is governed by rules.
Interrogatories are best drafted by your divorce lawyer.
I did the first round of my interrogatories to Mr. Ex without a divorce lawyer.
Interrogatories are questions designed to uncover evidence of hidden assets and finances and/or about one parties capabilities as a parent.
In our state at the time of my case, there was a limit of 25 written interrogatories, including all sub-parts, that can be asked without a Judge's intervening.
When you answer interrogatories, you're doing it on paper UNDER OATH. So lying on the interrogatories is considered perjury.
Perjury is a criminal matter than is most often pursued by a District Attorney.
While it's not likely that a DA is going to pursue you or your ex for perjury on divorce papers, the Judge certainly has the ability to rule against you if she/he discovers you've lied under oath.
The interrogatories I drafted were definitely targeted to catch Mr. Ex in a lie or force him to admit to hiding income in ABC Gear.
Request for production is similar to the interrogatories in that when used strategically, it's designed to gather evidence to support your case.
You can request, from your ex, documents such as bank statements, credit card bills, paycheck stubs, taxes, business invoices and accounting documents...
If these documents are held under a business name or in someone else's name, you'll most likely have to use subpoenas because a request for production only covers your ex.
Once you receive the written responses to your interrogatories and the documents you've requested, you and your attorney can sort through all the paperwork and answers to find inconsistencies, assets, evidence.... whatever it is you're looking for.
At this point, the attorneys (I did not do this on my own and wouldn't even begin to grasp how it would be done) will usually question each person under oath about the responses and production documents, in what's called a deposition.
If there are other persons who may have information as well, they can be subpoenad for depositions also.
Our case went all the way to trial, so all the questions were asked there in front of the Judge.
Trial preparation is extremely important and a good attorney can make or break the case.
I would also suggest that a good attorney, an honest and moral one, will prepare your case for trial even if it's not imminent.
A good divorce attorney will recognize that while you and your ex may come to an agreement outside of a trial, being prepared for one gives you strength at the bargaining table.
You are less likely to be afraid of something you are prepared for.
Divorce Checklist Lessons:
- The best way to support your divorce lawyer is to arm him or her with the big picture of your case with all the evidence you have, or anticipate existing, so that they can fully understand the picture.
- While trial can be costly, time-consuming, and not likely in most divorce cases, you still need to prepare for it. The strength of your position will help you in negotiations or trial.