When you hear the word “discovery,” you probably think of Columbus, Magellan, Ponce de Leon, and other great explorers. In divorce proceedings, discovery is a formalized process that allows the parties to “explore” information about each other’s cases.
Who needs discovery?
In short, everyone. Even in the most amicable of cases, it’s necessary. However, the less trust there is between the parties, or the more complex your financial situation is, the more discovery will be needed. In these sorts of cases, discovery becomes one of the lengthiest and most costly parts of the divorce process.
All kinds of information are important in a divorce case, much of focused on financial issues, such as:
· How much money is each spouse earning?
· What are each spouse’s expenses?
· What is the value of the family home?
· Where are the family bank accounts? What is the balance in each? Has either spouse “raided” those accounts?
· What are each spouse’s individual assets and liabilities? (What do they own and what do they owe?)
There are 2 main ways in which discovery is conducted.
1. Requests for the production of documents
These are normally requests for financial documents to test the accuracy of your spouse’s statements about their assets, debts, income and expenses.
In a complex financial case, or in a case where the spouses do not trust each other, the documents necessary can be voluminous. Gathering and reviewing all of these documents can take lots of time and money.
To find out what documents are normally required in a divorce case, see Disclosure.
2. Questioning (aka Examination for Discovery)
At a questioning or examination for discovery, your spouse’s lawyer will examine you under oath about your case. The purpose of this is two-fold. The first purpose is to gather information about your case that is not contained in documents.
The second purpose is to lock you into a story that cannot be changed, so that the weaknesses of your story can be exposed to the court.
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