What is Discovery?
In your legal case, discovery is a process in which documents, other evidence and information are exchanged between the parties. For instance, if you are going through an alimony case, you may ask the other party for evidence they were involved in an affair. Text messages, emails or photographs can be helpful in proving an affair. Or, if you are going through a custody case, you may ask the other party questions about the times you suspect he or she allowed the minor children to be around people doing drugs.
The parties must participate in discovery if either of them are served with it. There are legal consequences if you don’t. Going through the discovery process can be helpful to determine your next step. I.e. should you try to settle the case or move forward with trial? Below are the different types of discovery that can be used to help you in your family law case.
Sometimes referred to as ROGs or INTs by your attorney, interrogatories are questions posed to you by the other side. If you’re going through a financial case, the other side may ask you to list all of your financial accounts. If you’re going through a custody case, you might be asked to recall certain events in detail and write down a summary of what happened. Your answers will be under oath so you must be truthful and honest when you write them.
Request for Production of Documents
Request for production of documents (RPDs) are questions that ask you to turn over certain documents or other evidence. For instance, you may be asked to turn over the last two years of bank statements or any audio or video recordings you took of the other party during the marriage.
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Request for Admissions
Request for Admissions (RFAs) are statements you must either “admit” as true or “deny” as false. Each statement is usually worded in such a way to make you admit it is true. The purpose of RFAs is to narrow down the contested issues for trial. If you agree with one of their facts, that is one less thing to argue about at trial.
While it’s important to answer all discovery on time, a special rule applies to RFAs. If you do not respond within the time limits set out by statute, every statement is deemed admitted. This can be potentially disastrous for your case. For example, say the other party included a statement for you to admit you did drugs in front of the minor child. If you do not respond with a denial within the statutory time limit, the Court will recognize that you admitted this statement as true.
Depositions can also be part of the discovery process. During a deposition, a party or witness must answer questions. While the deposition typically takes place in a lawyer’s office, your answers will be made under oath. Depositions are helpful to find out what a party or witness will say before trial. While it is expensive to go through depositions, they are often used in high conflict custody cases or divorce cases involving an affair.
When going through the discovery process, it’s important to note that discovery requests and questions are written to be very broad. That way the other side can get as much information as possible. It’s not unusual for clients to feel angry and that their privacy is being violated when they read the questions. Most questions should be answered despite how invasive they are. But some questions are legally objectionable. If they are, your attorney may tell you not to answer them. When you are served with discovery, you should go over the questions with your attorney to find out what you should and should not answer.
If you are dealing with a family law matter, contact our office today to schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable family law attorneys.