Divorce Discovery Process

By Elizabeth Rayne

In between filing for divorce and the final trial, divorcing couples may use discovery to get as much information as possible to help with their case. If issues are up for dispute at the time of trial, each spouse must present evidence to convince the judge to rule in their favor in terms of custody, alimony and related issues. The discovery process helps each spouse accumulate the evidence he or she needs.

In between filing for divorce and the final trial, divorcing couples may use discovery to get as much information as possible to help with their case. If issues are up for dispute at the time of trial, each spouse must present evidence to convince the judge to rule in their favor in terms of custody, alimony and related issues. The discovery process helps each spouse accumulate the evidence he or she needs.

Discovery Overview

When a divorce case is contested, meaning spouses do not agree on getting a divorce or the terms of the divorce, such as property distribution or custody, the case will likely involve discovery. Discovery is a legal process that allows each spouse to request information from the other spouse, as well as any other people who may have helpful information. By retrieving needed information, you can better prepare for the divorce trial or settlement negotiations. While the rules for discovery may differ by state, the process generally begins as soon as the petition for divorce is filed and continues until the deadline set by the court, often a month or two before trial.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Subpoenas

A subpoena is a legal document that orders a person to provide testimony or produce records for your case. Typically, subpoenas are used to get information from third parties, or people other than the spouses getting divorced. The subpoena must be served, meaning the document must be delivered by an adult other than yourself such as a sheriff or process server. The person or organization that receives the subpoena must comply with the request unless they have a valid legal excuse. In addition to serving the subpoena on the third party, you must also submit proof of service to the court.

Written Requests

In some states, the discovery process begins with each spouse submitting a financial disclosure or case information statement. Even when not requested by the other spouse, your state may require each spouse to fill out a form with detailed information about income and assets. Additionally, one spouse may send interrogatories or requests for admission to the other spouse, which have a list of questions or statements the spouse must answer or confirm. Another discovery tool is notice to produce, which requires the other spouse to send requested documents, such as bank statements or tax returns..

Depositions

During depositions, a spouse or her attorney will meet with the other spouse or another witness to ask a series of questions under oath. Depositions do not take place in court, but instead usually take place at an attorney's office and may take several hours or even several days. The questions are asked in front of a court reporter or a videographer. Like other forms of discovery, depositions allow the spouse to accumulate more knowledge and evidence to help her case. At trial, you may use the records to point out any inconsistencies in your spouse's or another witness's testimony.

Professional Opinions

Professional opinions may also help either spouse's case at trial. During the discovery process, a spouse may request services from a real estate appraiser to determine the value of the marital home. Additionally, a psychologist may be consulted to determine the mental health of the child and the parents, to aid the court in making the best custody determination.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Discovery Questions for a Divorce in Connecticut

References

Related articles

How to: Formal Request for Discovery in Family Law

It isn't likely you will pass through the straits of divorce without discovering something about your spouse's character and your own, but the legal term "discovery" refers to something more formal: the procedures available for getting questions answered in a lawsuit. Trust is one of the first casualties of a divorce, making information-gathering difficult; the discovery process fills that gap by requiring each party to provide true information under penalty of perjury, but only if the asking spouse follows state procedures.

Subpoenaing Witnesses for a Divorce Trial

A successful divorce trial is the result of gathering and documenting information. If you and your spouse cannot reach a settlement and a trial becomes inevitable, you will probably want to seek the assistance of an attorney, rather than proceed on your own. Your attorney will first attempt to identify facts that will support your case through discovery methods. These might include issuing interrogatories, which are written questions your spouse must answer under oath. Then your attorney must bring these facts to the attention of the judge. One way to accomplish the latter is to subpoena the person who holds the information, legally obligating them to give testimony.

Is it Normal for the Financial Part of a Divorce to Drag on for Years?

When a couple agrees on the terms of their divorce, they can divorce as quickly as a few weeks, depending on state law. But when spouses can’t agree and instead wish to fight about terms, such as finances and property division, the divorce can take considerably more time. There is no way to know with certainty how long it will take because it depends on the case itself as well as the court’s caseload.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Can You Demand a Proof of Expense List in a Divorce?

Financial issues are some of the most polarizing in divorce lawsuits. Like issues of custody and children, most ...

How to Subpoena Records in Virginia for a Divorce Case

In Virginia, a subpoena duces tecum is a subpoena that requires documents, and possibly the appearance at a hearing, of ...

Discovery in Oregon Divorce Law

Divorce typically involves splitting up property, and resolving issues regarding financial support and child custody. ...

Financial Discovery in a Divorce Dissolution

If your spouse walks out of the marriage, the financial consequences can blow through your life like a cold wind. Your ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED