Family Law: Discovery in Divorce

(Interrogatories, Deposition, Subpoena)

On the procedural level, a divorce entails a number of distinct phases over a period of time. One of the most important phases is known as discovery.

At its core, discovery is about revealing details relevant to a particular case. It involves the legal representatives of either party seeking information from the other side, under the penalty of perjury if these facts are withheld or falsified.

Common Discovery Methods.

Attorneys go about obtaining evidence for a case (“conducting discovery”) in a number of distinct ways. Some of the more common approaches include:

Interrogatories – A list of broad questions about the case, such as information regarding employment, assets, debts, care of children, living expenses, and other issues of the marriage. This is a procedure requiring the other party to answer the questions in writing.

Request for Production of Documents – Apart from the information found in answers to interrogatories, divorce cases are designed to encompass a broad range of potential pieces of evidence, including deeds, bank statements, tax returns, bills, pay stubs, receipts, etc. This is a procedure to have the other side provide the requested documents that are in their possession and control.

Request for Admissions – Basically a safety-net designed to ensure accuracy of information, a request for admissions seeks to have the other side admit or deny a specific allegation.

Depositions – Probably the most direct and immediate of discovery procedures, a deposition works much like a testimony on the stand, with the legal counsel of one party putting questions to a witness under oath.

Subpoena – This is a procedure demanding that a third party provide relevant documents in their possession. An example would be bank statements or canceled checks from a bank, or income or pension information from an employer.