In many family law cases, one or both of the parties has information that the other needs to review to be prepared to negotiate and/or go to court. A common example involving property division in divorce cases is when one of the spouses has retirement account statements that the other does not have access to. Or, in cases where child support is being determined, the party who will be receiving support may not have access to the other’s paystubs and tax returns, both of which are used to calculate support.
If there is only a limited amount of information that needs to be exchanged and the parties are getting along, the attorneys will often agree to exchange documents informally or on an “as-needed” basis. In more complex cases or high conflict cases, the attorneys will usually serve formal discovery requests on the other party (sometimes formal discovery requests are the most efficient way to collect the necessary information, even in amicable cases).
TYPES OF DISCOVERY
Two of the most common types of discovery are Requests for Production and Interrogatories. Requests for Production generally pertain to documents, but they can include videos, electronic files, photographs, etc. Frequently requested documents include: bank statements, retirement account statements, credit card statements, tax returns, pay stubs, medical records and phone records. The number and scope of the requests usually depends on the issues at stake in the lawsuit.
Interrogatories are questions that ask you to state facts about the case, and these too can vary widely depending on the subject of the lawsuit. Typical interrogatories in support cases will ask about a person’s employment status, pay and benefits. In property cases, the interrogatories will usually ask the recipient to state the value the property and debts and how they propose that the property be divided.
RESPONDING TO DISCOVERY REQUESTS
Once a party has been served with discovery, they have 30 days to respond (sometimes 33 days, depending on the method of service). Your Austin family law attorney should forward the requests to you as soon as they’re received, and set up a time to review each request with you so that you understand exactly what information needs to be provided and when your attorney needs your answers. Since, there are potentially serious consequences to providing late or incomplete responses to discovery requests, it’s very important that you follow your attorney’s instructions carefully.
Have questions about the discovery process? Feel free to leave a comment, or contact Austin Divorce Lawyer Jay D. Smith.
For a consultation, call (512) 340-0002 or send us an email.