Conducting Discovery Informally In Family Law Litigation

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In any divorce or family law matter, a party must have all the information they need to make an informed decision in terms of whether trying or settling their case. In a divorce, in particular, parties need information on all kinds of topics.
 

As to marital property and debt in a divorce, a party must have all documentation to show the value of all marital property and debt. This documentation can involve having recent account statements from a litany of sources, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, mortgage, car notes, credit cards, and relative to all other property and debt acquired during the marriage. Without this information, it can be challenging for a party to make an informed decision in terms of whether to settle or try their divorce matter.

Tax returns can also be vitally important, including all the attachments. Without tax returns, it can be almost impossible to do calculations regarding child support or spousal support. Calculations can be complicated because child support and spousal support often involve inputting income figures into calculations to come up with figures for child or spousal support.

Even titles are critically important in terms of resolving a divorce. At trial, or in settlement paperwork, the legal description of vehicle identification numbers are needed. Otherwise, it becomes almost impossible to change titles to reflect the terms of the divorce decree.

To obtain this information, many wonder whether discovery can be completed informally. In other words, is it necessary to send requests for production to get this information? Also, lawyers sometimes have to issue subpoenas to get this information from third-party sources.

The reality is discovery can often be exchanged informally. Thus, parties and attorneys can work together to exchange the needed information to settle or try a divorce or family law matter. In some cases, informal discovery can be done fairly easily. Informal discovery can help many parties save money in attorneys’ fees. It can also save the parties needed time and hassle.

However, in many cases, informal discovery is just not possible. The litigation can become too acrimonious. Sometimes, the stakes are too high or the positions of the parties can become too adverse. Attorneys on the case also might not get along well enough to do discovery informally. In these cases, parties often have to issue discovery like requests for production, interrogatories or subpoenas to get the information they need.

Otherwise, a party can be in a position where they do not have the information to decide whether to settle their divorce or family law matter. Further, if the case goes to trial, many can become hamstrung in terms of having the information to present their case.

Ultimately, if discovery can be done informally, this can be positive for a case. It can save time and lawyers’ fees. But where informal discovery cannot be done, it can be imperative for a party to issue the necessary discovery to ensure that they can prepare their case adequately for settlement or trial.

Requests for production are formal requests for documents are evidence from the other party. Interrogatories are written questions that the other party has to answer. In cases where third-parties have the necessary information, subpoenas are used to compel these third parties to produce the documents are evidence.

But when the parties have to conduct formal discovery, the cost in the case can increase. At the same time, if the information cannot be obtained formally, often, there is no other choice.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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