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Discovery in Family Law

Discovery refers to the stage in litigation where the parties seek information from one another. Under California Civil Code section 2017.010, “any party may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter…if the matter either is itself admissible in evidence or appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” Discovery can be an expensive and extensive process in a family law case, particularly in a dissolution proceeding. There are many valuable discovery devices that can be used in family law cases to obtain information necessary to reach settlement or to use as evidence at trial. The following discovery devices are common forms of information gathering:

Deposition: Depositions usually take place at the office of the court reporter or at the office of any attorney involved in the case. At a deposition, the deponent will be required to answer questions asked by the opposing party’s attorney. Depositions are taken under oath; therefore it is imperative to give honest answers under penalty of perjury. Although a deposition is an efficient way to get information it can be very expensive.

Interrogatories: There are two types of interrogatories: form interrogatories and special interrogatories. Form interrogatories are standardized questions that can be propounded to the opposing party. There is no limit on the number of form interrogatories that can be propounded. Special interrogatories are individually crafted questions sent to the opposing party in order to obtain information relevant to the case. Generally each party is limited to 35 special interrogatories. Interrogatories are an inexpensive tool compared to depositions but it can take longer to get answers and interrogatories do not allow for an easy opportunity to ask follow up questions.

Demand for Production of Documents: A demand for production of documents can be sent to the opposing party and will require him or her to provide the specified documents. Documents such as bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, and pay stubs can be requested. This type of evidence is especially helpful in cases where child support or spousal support is at issue.

Request for Admission: Under California Civil Code section 2033.020, a party may serve on the other party a written request to admit the truth of any matters relating to: (1) facts, the application of law to fact, or opinions about either and (2) the genuineness of any described documents.

Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse or a legal separation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only lawyer in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don't settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.