Discovery: A Tedious but Important Part of Your Texas Divorce

When a new client discusses their case with me, we delve into the evidence needed to support their claims, whether it’s about infidelity, community income, or any divorce-related matter. It’s essential to substantiate your arguments with admissible evidence for your case. Accessing this type of evidence can prove challenging before filing your divorce. However, once you file your case and the court assigns it, you and your attorney can request information and documentation through a process known as Discovery. In today’s blog post, we delve into the essential role of discovery in divorce cases and why those thinking how to avoid discovery in divorce may realize it is neither a practical nor ethical approach.

What is Discovery, and what purpose does it serve?

You and your spouse have the right to comprehend the critical information that your opposing party intends to rely on if your case were to proceed to trial. As such, you must review and consider any evidence that your spouse wants to utilize in a problem.

Discovery operates as requests that you each can make for information. You must likely make and receive your discovery requests at least thirty days before the assigned trial date.

The types of Discovery requests available to you in a Texas Divorce?

Request for Production and Inspection – Documents can be requested in requests for production. It is also the most time-consuming for you, the client, as your attorney will ask you to dig through whatever files you have for old tax returns, bank statements, and credit card bills, among other types of information. Attorneys use this information to determine the size of your community estate and prepare arguments for trial and settlement proposals for mediation. When each side has access to the same information and documentation, it is incredible how fruitful settlement discussions can become.

Interrogatories – Interrogatories are statements made under oath – meaning that once you respond to the interrogatories, you will need to sign off on your responses in front of a notary. The questions asked are “foundational” questions for the case in general.

Requests for Disclosure – These are more requests for basic information about your case- the names of each party, any potential parties, and the general legal theories you are operating on when it comes to Divorce. The name and contact information for any potential witness that may be called during a hearing or trial are also fair to be asked for.

Request for Admissions – This type of discovery request asks the responding party to either Admit or Deny the truthfulness of a statement made in the document. These requests aim to identify and clarify the non-disputed aspects of your case, allowing both your side and the opposing party to concentrate on the issues that may be disputed during a trial.

Get to work on answering these requests immediately

You will become your attorney’s favorite client if you can begin to collect information and documents associated with your case before even hiring them. This is because the responses can take a long time to complete, and organizing hundreds or even thousands of pages to submit to opposing counsel can be quite an arduous task for your attorney.

Taking the initiative to complete much of the legwork before the requests even reach your attorney’s doorstep and then arranging a face-to-face meeting with your attorney or their paralegal creates a strong formula for submitting your responses promptly and in a format that won’t prompt objections from your spouse’s attorney.

It is not enough to tell your attorney that you don’t keep copies of a particular document at your home or office, and therefore the requested documents for production do not exist. That excuse will not fly if presented to a judge. If you don’t have them at your immediate disposal, you will need to track down your business’s tax returns, income statements, or profit/loss ledgers from your accountant or tax preparer.

Your attorney will not be able to take your responses and throw them at your opposing counsel, although that would be pretty humorous. Tuning responses and formatting documents correctly for formal submission consumes a significant amount of time.

Our office asks that clients provide us with responses/documents fifteen days before the deadline to discuss everything with you and seek clarification or additional documents where necessary.

The utmost importance of Discovery for you and your case

At the end of the day, if you don’t provide a document to your opposing party in negotiations, then you cannot come back and attempt to rely upon that document as evidence in a trial. The theory behind that is that your spouse hasn’t had an opportunity to review the record before the test, giving you an unfair advantage.

Additionally, submitting documents and responses to questions to your attorney in a timely manner will enable them to send a more accurate and complete answer to opposing counsel. The better the reactions, the less likely an objection will come from the other side and the less likely you’ll have to pay your attorney to represent you in a hearing where the judge may compel your responses.

Questions on Divorce and the importance of Discovery? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

If you are contemplating divorce, don’t hesitate to contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed attorneys represent clients across southeast Texas in contested and uncontested divorces. Contact us today to find out more about our office and the services we can provide you and your family with.

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