Discovery is a great legal tool to use to find hidden assets in a divorce case. It should be noted, it is not uncommon for some spouses to hide assets before or during a divorce. In this regard, discovery in divorce can help you find these hidden assets that may be part of the community property. Keep in mind, unprivileged information relevant to a marriage is discoverable and considered admissible evidence at a trial. Furthermore, information reasonably believed to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence is also discoverable. Below is an overview of discovery tools most commonly used in a divorce.

Discovery Process in California Divorce

Discovery in divorce is simply the process of information gathering. In this regard, conducting discovery in divorce simply allows a spouse to dig deeper. Discovery can help a spouse get information about the assets and debts in their marital estate, their spouse’s income, potential trial witnesses, and information about child custody.

Discovery in divorce can encompass one or several several different legal processes. These include, responding to questions, producing documentation and taking in-person testimony. The following are discovery tools that can be used to get information in a divorce proceeding:

“Serving my spouse with discovery was a great way to get information that she was refusing to provide, and it was not an expensive process using A People’s Choice.” W. Alley
“What I wasn’t counting on, and what turned out to be an added bonus, was that when my spouse received the discovery request, it encouraged her to settle our issues!” W. Alley

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Production of Documents in Divorce – A person can formally ask their spouse to produce specific documents by serving them with a formal Request for Production of Documents. Using this tool of discovery in divorce allows a party to ask a spouse or domestic partner to produce tax returns, financial statements, loan applications, pay stubs, credit card statements, business records and other documentation. It should be noted, a request for the production of documents must be in writing using pleading format. Furthermore, the date, time, and place where the documents are to be provided for inspection must be stated. In turn, documents must be produced by the other party within 30 days after service of the demand. Accordingly, a spouse only has to produce documents within his/her control.

Request for Admissions in Divorce – Serving a formal Request for Admissions is rarely used in divorce cases. Specifically, a Request for Admissions requires the opposing party to admit or deny specific statements. If the party fails to respond to a statement within a specified amount of time, it will be automatically be considered admitted. As a rule, this type of discovery is best used in civil disputes.

Interrogatories in Divorce Interrogatories are probably the most common process used when serving discovery in divorce on a spouse. This is because it is an easy and inexpensive way to get information from a spouse. Specifically, interrogatories in divorce are questions submitted to the other spouse that need written answers. Incidentally, form interrogatories are prefabricated questions designed by the Judicial Council to get basic information that is fairly common to all dissolution proceedings. On the other hand, Special Interrogatories are custom questions formulated by a party on pleading paper specifically tailored to the issues in the case. Most importantly, the answers provided must be sworn to under oath.

Oral Deposition – When an oral deposition is used as part of discovery in divorce, the spouse who is being “deposed” is required to personally testify and answer questions. Their testimony given under oath is called an “oral deposition”. In an oral deposition, the party being deposed (questioned) appears before a court reporter and is sworn to tell the truth about questions asked of them. If a person lies under oath during a deposition, he/she can be charged with perjury. It should be noted, a deposition is a great tool to use to lock in a spouse or other witness’s  testimony so that it cannot change. Of course, depositions can be costly. The person who requested the deposition may have to pay attorney and court reporter fees.

Deposition Subpoena When a business (not a party to a divorce) has records a spouse needs to see, they can get them by issuing a deposition subpoena of business records. The subpoena will allow a party to get bank records, wage information, and information related to retirement benefits, stock options, and bonuses of the spouse. The party seeking the records must provide notice to both the spouse whose records are being sought and the business when requesting business documents.

Contact A People’s Choice for more information about conducting discovery in divorce cases. We can help you prepare discovery requests and have them served on the opposing party. Do not delay in conducting discovery as there may be deadlines within which discovery must be completed in a divorce proceeding.

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