Contact Us (408) 416-3149


Getting the Big Picture: Discovery During Divorce

Posted by Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation | Dec 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

Before she filed for divorce, Sharon used to say that Mark's favorite pastime was speaking his mind, especially when it was to put her down. Now that the divorce is in progress, it's like he's forgotten how to talk. He also acts like his memory has been erased, answering, “I don't know” to all questions regarding marital finances.

Sharon was alarmed because Mark always handled their finances, but her divorce attorney assured her that many of these missing details will come out during the discovery process.

What is Discovery?

Discovery is a legal fact-finding process that requires both parties to a divorce action to disclose material facts and documents in preparation for settlement or trial. With divorce litigation, it typically consists of:

  • Interrogatories: These are lists of questions that the recipient must answer. There is a list of questions specifically for divorce actions called Form Interrogatories – Family Law, which covers the financial matters related to separate property claims, child or spousal support, any support received from third parties, and reimbursement claims. Each party that receives an interrogatory generally has 30 days to respond.
  • Demand for Document Production. This aspect of discovery calls for the inspection or copying of important documents. This is especially helpful if one spouse had primary control over the marital finances or controls a business in which the marital community may have an interest. Sharon can ask Mark to produce documents such as bank statements, paycheck stubs, and credit card bills.
  • Depositions. Depositions are question and answer sessions carried out under oath in the presence of a court reporter. Both Mark and Sharon may be deposed and in some cases, those who have information relevant to the litigation, such as friends, relatives, and neighbors, may also be questioned.

Although discovery generally occurs outside the courtroom, the proceeds may have to be taken before a judge if the parties disagree on what should be shared.

What Can and Cannot Be Discovered?

The information that Sharon can seek from Mark is relatively broad. She can ask for facts, documents, and the identities of other parties with information about the case unless that information is privileged or otherwise legally protected. For example, her divorce attorney can ask Mark or any other witness:

  • What they heard, saw, or did in connection with some aspect of the divorce
  • What they said at a particular place or time (for example, Mark told Sharon two months that he planned to invest in a particular stock that looked promising)
  • How their business is run
  • Their personal, professional, and educational background (for example, Sharon is claiming spousal support and Mark says she has an advanced degree that qualifies her for gainful employment)

Although any information related to Mark and Sharon's divorce is generally “discoverable,” there are some limits. Conversations between lawyer-and-client and doctor-and-patient are legally confidential. Sharon's attorney could not be compelled to reveal anything she disclosed to him and Mark's doctor does not have to provide health details about his patient.

Get Help With Your California Divorce

Although both parties in a divorce action must comply with the full disclosure requirements referenced in the Family Code, additional discovery steps are sometimes needed to resolve the issues in a contentious divorce. If you are concerned that your spouse will be hostile and uncooperative during your upcoming divorce, contact Ahluwalia Law P.C. Attorney Madan Ahluwalia has guided many clients through difficult family law challenges and will help you obtain the information needed to obtain your fair share of the marital estate.

About the Author


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today

Fill out our consultation form (Family Law Form or Immigration Form) and schedule an appointment ( Schedule Online).