Discovery in Divorce Actions

If a divorce case is contested then a trial may occur. Prior to the commencement of the divorce trial, discovery will take place. Discovery is a process by which both parties are able to obtain or attempt to obtain information needed for the divorce proceedings. The discovery mechanisms are the same discovery mechanisms that are used in civil trials. Many divorce courts require the parties to disclose and exchange certain information without any formal discovery request by the parties themselves. Usually, these disclosures concern financial matters.

Interrogatories

Interrogatories consist of a set of questions that are given to the opposing party to answer. The questions may cover a wide array of topics. Typically, a yes or no answer is required. Also, an explanation is required for many questions. Interrogatories are used to elicit information from the opposing party about issues involved in the divorce proceedings.

Requests for Admissions

Requests for admissions are requests made by one party for the opposing party to answer. Typically, the responding party may either admit, deny, or neither admit nor deny the requests for admissions. These types of requests may be used to elicit financial information or information in a fault-based divorce state for prior indiscretions or activities that may have occurred.

Production of Documents

Either party may request that the other party produce certain documents. Typically the type of documents that are requested are of a financial nature. The documents may involve life insurance issues, real estate deeds, pension or retirement information, or bank account information.

Depositions

Depositions are generally conducted to gain more information into a party's background, employment, and financial dealings. Attorneys conduct depositions with the presence of a court reporter. The attorneys ask the deponent questions to gain certain information pertaining to the divorce action. Either side may depose one another or witnesses who have information about them. Information obtained from the depositions may be introduced at trial to discredit or impeach the party that made certain statements during her deposition.

Physical or Mental Examinations

Especially if custody is a contested issue, either party may request that the opposing party undergo physical or mental examinations. This information may be used during the divorce trial to support one party's assertion that the other party should not have custody of the children. Sometimes the children are required to undergo examinations especially if one party presents allegations of child or physical abuse.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.