Discovery is a phase of any court case that you’ll spend the vast majority of your case dealing with. Discovery starts the day you hire your attorney until the day your court case receives its “final minute entry” and it’s the concept of discovering any and all information about the other party that could help sway the court in your favor. Doing well with discovery can give you a serious advantage in your family law case and the reverse is also true. Poorly executing the discovery process can all but guarantee the outcome will be disappointing for you.
There are many ways the discovery process progresses. Keep in mind that the term discovery is not in reference to information easily gathered but instead it is the information the other party does not willingly forfeit to the court. Examples of what discovery seeks to uncover could be financial information, proof of activity with malicious intent and adultery.
Below are the most common and legal ways to go about the discovery process.
The family court rules allow for different types of written questions to be issued to the other party to answer. There are Non-Uniform Interrogatories and Uniform Interrogatories. The presumptive limit of interrogatories is 40 in total. With Uniform Interrogatories, which are already drafted for family law cases to obtain information that is generally important in a broad spectrum of cases in the family court. The Uniform Interrogatories can be issued in whole or in part. Subparts do not count as individual questions. With Non-Uniform Interrogatories, we tailor the questions to your individual case to obtain information unique to you.
Requests for Production of Documents have a presumptive limit of ten categories. The documents and things you may compel could include tangible documents, as well as things like computers.
The person answering is being asked to admit or deny certain allegations and statements. Requests for Admission have a presumptive limit of ten categories for admissions. These may be paired with some types of interrogatories. Any answers not provided by deadline could potentially be deemed admitted, which is terrible because admissions can be harmful. Example: “Admit that you spanked your child so hard that you broke the skin.” You don’t want to have admitted that by operation of law, especially if it was not true.
This is an informal process with formal consequences. If a person’s deposition is taken, they are under oath to tell the truth. Changed answers can be devastating on important topics. The person whose deposition is being taken will want to prepare extensively for the deposition questions and how to answer sensitive questions. The person taking the deposition will want to examine documents to affix to the deposition transcript as exhibits. The deposition exhibits can add dimension to the answers given after review of those exhibits. A deposition is not supposed to be contentious, but it usually is. Unless there is a court order or the parties agree, a deposition can only be taken of a party to the case.
If you believe there is information that a person is hiding or will be unable to provide – such as employment records or other information that a subpoenaed entity can provide – you can issue a subpoena. The court’s subpoena fee is $27.00. The subpoena is relatively simple to serve if on an Arizona business or government entity, but service on out of state entities can become rather complicated.