QUESTION: IF MY SPOUSE AND I CANNOT REACH AN AGREEMENT ON THE TERMS OF OUR DIVORCE, WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
ANSWER: THE DISCOVERY PROCESS
When cases are not resolved, there is much information that the parties need to exchange in order to prepare for trial. The common term used to describe this exchange of information is Discovery. Here are some common items that are exchanged in a contested (not agreed) divorce.
1. Interrogatories: Interrogatories are questions that are posed by one party to the other. When one party sends Interrogatories to the other, the opposite party has 30 days to respond to or answer the questions.
2. Request for Production of Documents: This process, as the name implies, asks one party to disclose to the other, certain documents. Common documents include bank statements, pay stubs, car titles, property deeds, photographs, and tax returns. Like interrogatories, there is a 30-day time limit to respond.
3. Income and Expense Statements: This document outlines the amount of money coming in and the amount of money going out.
4. List of marital property and debt: This is a comprehensive listing of all items purchased or acquired during the marriage, and their current market value. It is also a list of all debt accumulated during the marriage.
5. List of non-marital property and debt: This is a listing of all items that you or your spouse brought into the marriage, or acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance. It is also a listing of debt brought into the marriage.
DEPOSITIONS Another part of discovery may be Depositions. Depositions are a question and answer session of a witness, where the witness is under oath, and both sides are represented. A court reporter records the session. Depositions are often taken of the parties to the case and important witnesses.
SUBPOENAS You may have heard the term “subpoena,” as in “we are going to subpoena those records.” What does this mean? A subpoena is an Order, issued by a Court, for certain records to be produced or for a witness to appear for deposition or court testimony. Either party has the ability to issue a subpoena for records or for testimony of a witness.