Discovery is the legal process whereby your lawyer formally seeks information from the other side that will assist with determining a fair settlement or in preparing for trial. Discovery comes in the form of written questions the other side must answer under oath, called Interrogatories, documents that are formally requested, called a Request for Production of Documents, statements that the other side must admit or deny, called a Request for Admissions and perhaps a Deposition where you or your spouse must sit down and answer questions under oath.
Discovery tends to be expensive and time consuming for all involved. It often delays coming up with a settlement or getting to a final hearing. If you are the client here are some tips in assisting your lawyer with discovery:
1. Figure out whether you really need to do discovery in the first place and let your lawyer know. If you both know what assets you have, what they are worth and you are already thinking about a settlement of your case let your lawyer know that. Don’t allow your lawyer to spend unnecessary time and money requesting documents that may be wholly unnecessary or that you already have and could provide to your lawyer. In more than half of all divorces both spouses know what their assets are, their value, and what marital debt has accumulated over time. They don’t need to be doing discovery.
2. If you do have to do discovery figure out early on what information you need from your spouse in order to come up with a fair settlement. Perhaps you do not have access to your spouse’s most recent retirement statement or were not aware that she had incurred so much credit card debt so you want to see the credit card statements. Let your lawyer know what information you would like to see, what questions you want your spouse to answer under oath (when did he/she have that affair, what did he/she do with the money in the safe, etc.) and what admissions you want your spouse to be forced to make. By assisting your lawyer in the discovery process it will be easier to discuss settlement or trial strategy that much sooner.
3. Gather the same type of information you want to request and provide that information to your lawyer. For any question or document you ask your spouse to provide be prepared to provide the same. For example, if you want twelve months of bank statements for his account gather twelve months of bank statements for your bank account and provide that information to your lawyer now.
4. For discovery being sent to you do the following: carefully answer each question, gather each document requested, clearly organize and mark each document for your lawyer, and make extra copies for the other side. This will save your lawyer time and you a tremendous amount of money. It will also speed up the time period upon which this information can be provided to the other side thus making it easier to settle or prepare for trial.
Finally, when in doubt find a good family law lawyer who has experience handling the type of case you are involved in. Check out our website at www.columbiamolawfirm.com for more information. We are available to help you with all of your discovery questions today.