What is Discovery in a California Divorce

What is Discovery in a California Divorce?

During a California divorce, a couple will identify and divide their shared or community assets. In addition, they may need to develop custody and support terms. Sometimes, parties may need more information to make informed decisions about these and other case issues. Depending on the circumstances, one or both may decide to serve discovery for this purpose. So, what is discovery in a California divorce?

Mandatory Declaration of Disclosure

Under California law, parties to a divorce are required to disclose certain financial information by exchanging mandatory declaration of disclosure forms. Both parties are expected to complete the form (California Judicial Council Form FL-140) accurately so that they can have full knowledge of their shared assets and obligations. While the form may require relevant financial information, a party may need further details and additional documents. In this instance, the individual may need to use discovery to obtain the necessary information.

What is Discovery in a California Divorce?

Discovery refers to specific methods parties can use to request and obtain documents and details from each other in a legal case. When information is obtained through discovery in a California divorce, it may be admissible in court. Not all information is discoverable, however. For instance, privileged and irrelevant information will not usually be available during discovery.

Types of Discovery in a California Divorce

Several types of discovery may be used in a California divorce case. For example, a party may choose to use some or all of the following forms of discovery:

  • Interrogatories: Interrogatories are inquiries (questions) that one party can send to the other to get specific information in writing. Form interrogatories are standardized prepopulated questions that have been prepared by the state court system. Special interrogatories are specifically created inquiries that are outside of the form interrogatory questions.
  • Admissions: A request for admissions are inquiries that require a party to admit or deny certain facts. When a party fails to admit or deny these statements within the time provided under the law, they can be deemed to be admitted.
  • Production of Documents and Things: A request for production of documents or things is a request for a party to give the other certain documents or items that pertain to the case. In a California divorce, these typically include information such as financial account statements, pay information, and tax returns.
  • Subpoenas: A subpoena is an official document approved by a court that requires the recipient to appear at a certain time and place. Subpoenas may also require the recipient to bring certain documents with them.
  • Depositions: A deposition is a meeting during which the deponent is asked to provide answers under oath. The questions are usually asked by attorneys in a professional setting such as an office. The deposition will usually be recorded by a court reporter or via video.
  • Other Forms of Discovery: A party may also serve other forms of discovery, such as a request to inspect property or for someone to undergo a physical or mental evaluation. They may also require an expert witness disclosure.

Depending on the facts and complexity of the issues, discovery may or may not be necessary for a California divorce. The best way to evaluate your California divorce and the likelihood of discovery is by consulting with an experienced California divorce lawyer. Your California divorce attorney can help you prepare and evaluate the mandatory disclosure forms in your case and determine if you need to obtain further information through discovery.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

If you have questions regarding an upcoming California divorce, you should meet with a California divorce attorney as soon as possible to discuss the matter. Your divorce lawyer can help you evaluate your case and plan for your needs today and in the future.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California divorce attorneys who can help you during and after your case. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.

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