Once you file for divorce, you may think the hard part is over until the hearing before a judge, but there is an entire process that comes between filing a divorce petition and appearing in court – discovery. This process is a way for each party to find out information about the other that will help them present arguments to a judge in hopes of persuading the judge to rule in their favor. Having this information also makes the proceeding fairer to both sides. A recent story out of Broward County highlights the important role discovery plays in a divorce case, and particularly notes the need to be truthful in all statements and writings given to the other party during discovery. A recent law graduate in the process of divorcing her orthopedic surgeon husband allegedly hired a private investigator to post negative online reviews about her husband in order to ruin his reputation and business. The court in this case specifically looked at her statements made during the discovery process about her knowledge of the private investigator’s activities as evidence of her untruthfulness. With an eye on preparing spouses going through a divorce on what is involved with discovery and the types of information the other side may be seeking, an overview of the different facets of discovery will be discussed below.Financial Disclosures
Each party in a divorce proceeding is required to give to the other an accounting of an individual’s income, assets and expenses in the form of a financial affidavit. This information will be used by the court to make determines about awards for alimony or child support, including the amount a party would have to pay.Interrogatories
Interrogatories are written questions a spouse can submit to the other side. The answers are made under oath. The Florida Supreme Court provides an interrogatory form that asks detailed questions about a spouse’s financial situation. In addition to the questions on this form, each party is permitted to submit ten more questions of their own choosing. Responses must be given to the party requesting the information within 30 days of receiving the questions.Depositions
A deposition is an out-of-court proceeding to take the testimony of a party or witness about what information they have related to a case. This proceeding is taken under oath and is recorded by a court reporter for potential later use at trial. Typically, the attorneys for each spouse, the spouses and the person being deposed are present for the questioning.Subpoenas
Subpoenas are used to get documents from parties other than a spouse. For instance, a subpoena could be served on an employer to get information about income or a bank to get financial records.Requests for Admissions
Requests for admissions are a list of statements or facts that both spouses may serve on the other requesting a party admit or deny the veracity of the items included in the list. Florida law permits each spouse to submit an unlimited number of requests, and if the other party does not respond within 30 days of receiving a request, the listed items are treated as admissions of fact.Requests for Production
A request for production is written request from one spouse to the other asking for documents in addition to those required in the mandatory financial disclosures. A party has 30 days to produce a copy of a requested document, except they may object to producing the entire document or only a part of it. A court decides at a hearing if, or how much of, a document must be produced.Ask for Help
Discovery during a divorce case is an involved process that takes a lot of time and experience to perform efficiently and well. While the Florida Supreme Court does have forms online for parties to use on their own, it can be a daunting undertaking if you do not know when and where each form should be used. An attorney is trained in navigating this process and can help you get the most information legally allowed from the other side. Stok Kon + Braverman have many years of experience in divorce matters and are able to assist you with each segment of a divorce case. Contact our Fort Lauderdale office today to schedule a confidential consultation.