Last Updated on February 24, 2023 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt
Lawyers weave together facts, documents, and testimony to create compelling cases that benefit their clients. They need data to do their work effectively. This is possible thanks to the discovery process in divorce. Both sides collect information during discovery regarding witnesses and evidence they will share during the trial. Lawyers have access to the entire case before the judge orders it.
What Is Discovery In Divorce?
During divorce discovery, research must be gathered and shared. This helps your lawyer to understand your case’s strengths and weaknesses. Your lawyer can use this data to help you win the case.
The discovery process begins long before the trial commences. Many rules guide it. Lawyers can use discovery to force the opposing side to provide evidence to help build their case. You cannot ignore discovery requests. This could result in stiff sentences or fines.
Your lawyer usually initiates discovery because it is a legal process. The work starts as soon as you file for divorce, and your lawyer is hired. You can adjust the time frame depending on these factors:
- Complexity: Divorces involving high-conflict spouses and a lot of assets are more complex than simple cases.
- Collaboration: Two sides can work together to make the process more efficient.
- Urgency: Some legal teams use delay tactics during discovery to slow down the process.
Your lawyer will request all documents and data related to your divorce case. During discovery, you are allowed to share any information that could be helpful in your case. Lawyers often ask for bank statements, credit card bills, and home assessments. Your lawyer may also request expert opinions or witness statements.
The Divorce Discovery Process
Most states require that couples fill out their financial paperwork separately and share it with each other. Although you may have shared assets and debts in your marriage, you must clearly state what you have and what you owe. Your lawyer can examine these documents to find inconsistencies and help you build your case.
The second step is to ask written questions. The second step involves your spouse’s lawyer asking you questions about your background, assets, and income. These questions are answered in writing by your lawyer.
Notice To Produce
Your lawyer will determine what data is missing, such as a home valuation, recorded statements made or key email messages, and ask the other party for them.
During the Admission stage, your spouse’s attorney will provide a series of statements you must confirm/delete. Your spouse will receive a similar request. You should be careful what you answer because these statements can’t be retracted once given.
Each lawyer compiles lists of persons or entities with information about your marriage. Subpoenas may require witnesses to be present at trial or in depositions. Others require the individual or organization to produce some proof or document.
Witnesses (including you and your spouse) go to a lawyer to make a statement for the record. The court reporter records everything you say and shares those recordings with the other side.
Your right to testify at trial does not automatically disappear if you take a deposition. Lawyers can sometimes use these depositions to catch lies. This could be a great follow-up question if you give different answers in depositions and at trial.
Pros And Cons Of Divorce Discovery
Your lawyer can find the discovery process extremely helpful. Your legal team will be able to get a clear understanding of your marriage and develop a cohesive strategy for representing your case in court.
However, discovery can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful. Your lawyer must locate any document, witness, or evidence the other party requests. Some spouses harass their ex-partners with demands, even though they know they are causing harm.
Divorce Discovery FAQs
What Happens If My Spouse Won’t Cooperate With Discovery?
Some divorces allow spouses to refuse to answer questions and participate in the process. Different things can happen in a discovery. Discovery is a legal process that divorced lawyers manage. These steps are not optional for your spouse. Your spouse’s lawyer will handle the details.
How Long Does Discovery Last & Cost?
It takes a lot of time for lawyers to prepare cases. Even simple cases can drag on. Many states allow people to respond to requests for weeks. It can be difficult to get statements or depositions, and schedule demands can cause delays. Expect to spend many weeks or even months on discovery. This can be one of the most costly phases of a divorce. Lawyers charge hourly, and most of their work is in discovery.
Can You Avoid Divorce Discovery?
Without discovery, no court case can proceed. It is a fundamental part of the court system. Participation in discovery is a requirement if you are relying upon a judge for the end of your marriage. You could also work with your spouse to end your marriage outside court. You can also use discovery to convince your partner to settle your differences so that you can end your marriage without going to court.