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Discovery in Divorce Proceedings

Generally speaking, discovery refers to the exchange or disclosure of information and documents by parties involved in a court proceeding. For parties involved in divorce, discovery most often involves the exchange of financial information and documents to determine the value of the marital estate that needs to be divided between the parties. Discovery typically involves the exchange of documents such as bank statements, retirement account statements, appraisals of homes, and valuations of cars and other assets. Depending upon the issues raised in a particular divorce proceeding, discovery may also be conducted to determine other matters such as the date the parties separated or any marital misconduct engaged in by either party (e.g. infidelity, abuse, etc.).

Documents can be exchanged informally without the need to undergo formal discovery. Informal discovery can be as simple as sending a letter to the other party requesting the information or documents needed. If the parties wish to cooperate and save money, they can simply provide the requested documents to the other party. If the other party does not want to cooperate, however, they are not legally required to respond to an informal discovery request. In that case, formal discovery will be necessary.

Formal discovery is a legal process of requesting the required documents and information that has the backing of the court. This means that if the other party is required to respond and if they do not respond to the request, they can be held in contempt of court and sanctions can be levied against them. There are several different types of formal discovery commonly used by parties in divorce proceedings. The most common form are Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents. Depositions, while used less frequently, can also be very helpful.

Interrogatories: Interrogatories are written questions posed by one party to the other party, which must be answered under oath by the party to whom they are presented.

Requests for Production of Documents: Requests for production of documents are requests for one party to provide the requested documents (for example, bank statements) to the other party.

Depositions: Depositions are sworn testimony taken outside of court. Generally speaking, each party will have the opportunity to ask questions of the other party or parties, relating to the court proceeding in which they are involved.

The attorneys at Tanner Law Offices are experienced in discovery matters. If you are contemplating divorce or are already involved in a divorce proceeding and have questions, please contact us at (717) 731-8114 to set up a consultation.