What you don’t know can hurt you in a divorce case. That is a basic statement that can apply to your divorce or any other person who is going through the process in Texas. The information that you have access to can be used to your advantage by sharing it with your attorney. Your attorney can use their experience and expertise to help you negotiate a settlement or pursue relief in court if a settlement cannot be reached.
What happens when there is question regarding a piece of information that is critical to your being able to make a decision but you don’t know or don’t have access to the answer? In civil cases in Texas formal discovery requests may be made to the opposing party in order to ascertain the information that is sought. The following blog post details some basic information about the process as well as information that may be helpful on how to handle requests that may be made of you during your divorce.
What is Discovery?
Discovery is a method by which both sides to a divorce may utilize in order to gain access to the information they require to figure out the size of the community estate and to learn the positions of the other party. Depending on the type of discovery that the court has allowed for your case there are specific time periods in your case in which discovery is allowed. Once your case is filed my advice would be to check with your attorney to see what types of discovery requests can be made and how soon the requests have to be submitted to the other party.
What are the different types of discovery?
In terms of written discovery requests there are five that are generally applicable to a divorce in Texas:
Request for Admissions: This type of discovery request is asking a party to either “Admit” or “Deny” that a statement made is true. If the party whose responses are being requested does not respond within the relevant time period (usually 30 days) all of the requests will be deemed to be admitted. Depending on the statements that are admitted to, the failure to answer the requests can result in your case being severely hurt.
Sworn Inventory and Appraisement: The party answering the sworn inventory and appraisement must list all assets that he or she is aware of. The next level of this request is that the answering party must state whether he or she believes the asset is property of the community or separate estates of either party. It is also necessary to assert a particular value for each asset that is listed.
Interrogatories: This discovery request is a series of questions sent to the other party that requires he or she to respond to questions about issues that are relevant to their divorce. Examples of issues that are often asked about are the amount of money in particular bank accounts, information about the party’s employment, and the name and location of every financial institution in which the party has money being held.
Request for Production and Inspection: This is a fairly straightforward discovery request in that it is asking for a party to produce documents to allow for the requesting party to inspect them. In divorce cases bank account documents, mortgage documents, retirement plan information, income related documents and telephone records are among the most frequently requested. A party is able to “object” to certain requests if he or she believes the request was made improperly.
Request for Disclosure: Perhaps the most common discovery request available in Texas civil cases are requests for disclosure. These requests will ask for basic information about the party including their full and correct name, address, legal theories on particular subjects and the names and addresses of any witnesses who may be called to testify.
Responding to Discovery requests made of you during a divorce
Discovery requests are all well and good when you are the requesting party. What happens though when you are the one being asked to answer the sorts of questions that we discussed in the prior section of this blog?
Discovery is an expensive process because answering these requests is extremely time consuming in most instances. The fact that your responses are due within a certain amount of time puts even greater emphasis on efficiently responding to the requests of your opposing party. At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, our support staff will mail to you any discovery requests made by the other party to your divorce along with instructions on helpful hints on how to answer the questions. Our office will ask you for draft responses initially and then will work with you personally on fine tuning your responses. The Houston divorce attorney assigned to your case will make objections where applicable and will format your responses prior to submitting them to the opposing attorney.
Planning Ahead when Answering Discovery
I cannot speak for every family law attorney, but I can say without hesitation that clients and attorneys work best during the discovery phase of case when they communicate early and often regarding the responses to the discovery requests. It will usually take two or three rounds of revisions to your responses before they are ok to submit to the opposing party. This means that submitting your rough draft of responses the night before the deadline to respond is not a good idea. This applies doubly to requests for production. Finding the documents that are being requested can be a difficult task in and of itself. Make sure to follow the instructions and advice of your attorney and get to work on collecting your answers and documents as soon as you receive the discovery requests.
Experience Matters when Answering Discovery
The discovery phase of your divorce case is one of the most important. How you respond to questions, and the requests that are made of the other party, can go a long way towards determining the outcome of your case. Add in the time and money commitments that are part of discovery and it should be clear that choosing an attorney that has experience in responding to and requesting discovery is critical.
Our attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have represented clients across southeast Texas in divorce and child custody cases. We offer a thorough plan when it comes to discovery that provides peace of mind for our clients. Contact our office today with questions on discovery or any other subject in family law. Consultations with an attorney are free of charge and are available six days a week.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Attorneys
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with ar Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Spring TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.