What is the Discovery Process in Family Law? - Bineham & Gillen
 

custodydivorceWhat is the Discovery Process in Family Law?

May 13, 2020by James Gillen
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Texas Family Law Services From Bineham & Gillen

At Bineham & Gillen, we understand that navigating a divorce can be a complex and emotionally taxing experience. One critical component of family law — particularly in divorce cases — is the discovery process.

This essential phase involves the systematic collection and exchange of information and documents relevant to your case.

Understanding the discovery process can empower you to make informed decisions and ensure that all pertinent details are effectively presented in court.

What Is Discovery?

Discovery is the formal procedure used to gather evidence and information before a trial. In the context of family law, this process helps both parties understand each other’s claims and prepare their cases.

Discovery can be conducted formally, through structured legal procedures or informally, through mutual agreement between the parties. The documents collected can vary, including everything from financial records to personal documents like child attendance records and bank statements.

The goal is to provide a comprehensive view of the relevant aspects of the parties’ lives and situations to present to the court.

During discovery, both sides must share the evidence they intend to use in court. This transparency is essential to minimize surprises during the trial and to encourage dispute resolution before court proceedings begin. By exchanging information, both parties can assess the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, facilitating fair settlements and reducing conflicts.

Key Components Of The Discovery Process

Understanding the key components of the discovery process is essential for anyone involved in a family law case. At Bineham & Gillen, we guide our clients through each step, ensuring they are well-prepared and informed. There are three primary elements you need to know about.

Interrogatories

Interrogatories are written questions that one party sends to the other, which must be answered in writing and under oath. These questions can cover a range of topics, from financial matters to personal circumstances.

For example, an interrogatory might ask, “What are all the reasons you believe you should have child custody?” or inquire about specific financial details like the respondent’s last paycheck.

Rather than answering directly, the responding party can refer to specific documents that contain the requested information, provided those documents are part of the discovery.

Depositions

Depositions involve oral questioning — conducted in person or over the phone — where the answers are recorded for use in court. During a deposition, attorneys can question the opposing party or witnesses under oath. This process allows them to gather detailed information and assess the credibility of potential testimonies.

Depositions are instrumental in preparing for trial. They provide a preview of the evidence and statements that will be presented.

Requests For Production

This aspect of discovery involves requesting specific documents or tangible evidence from the other party. These requests can include financial statements, medical records or any other documents pertinent to the case.

Complying with these requests ensures that both sides have access to all necessary information, promoting a fair trial.

Timing And Management Of The Discovery Process

The timing of the discovery process can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the specific rules of the jurisdiction. In Texas, for instance, the most common discovery level in family law cases is Level 2. It typically begins once a lawsuit is filed and continues for a set period, often up to 30 days before the trial.

This timeframe allows both parties to gather and exchange information, prepare their cases and attempt to resolve disputes outside of court.

To manage the discovery process effectively, it is crucial to work closely with your attorney. Be transparent and honest, providing all relevant information and documents promptly. This openness allows your attorney to build a strong case, addressing potential issues proactively.

Success In Your Family Law Case: Your Path Forward

If you are going through a divorce in Texas and need guidance on the discovery process, Bineham & Gillen is here to help. Our experienced family law attorneys are dedicated to providing compassionate and effective legal support.

By understanding and actively participating in the discovery process, you can ensure your case is thoroughly prepared. This preparation increases the likelihood of a fair and favorable outcome. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and begin navigating the discovery process with confidence.