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What Is Discovery In A Family Law Case?

Generally, discovery consists of tools used to obtain information and evidence about another party’s case or to obtain evidence from non-parties.

Is Discovery Necessary In All Family Law Cases?

Discovery is not necessary in all family cases. However, in most cases, at least a Request for Disclosure will be sent to the other party. The need for discovery is based upon the complexity of the case and the amount of information your client has in relation to the case. In a divorce, if your client has never been involved with the household finances, then the other spouse may have the majority of the information; therefore, some type of discovery will be necessary to evaluate the property settlement.

What Are The Different Types Of Discovery In Family Court?

Texas discovery consists of the following:

Request for Disclosure (statutory promulgated questions to which a party must provide general information about their case),

Interrogatories (questions to which a party must provide sworn responses),

Request for Production (questions to which a party must produce documents and other tangible items),

Request for Admissions (questions to which a party must respond and the answers limit the party from disputing the admission),

Depositions (which is sworn testimony responsive to questioning of a party or witness).

Additionally, the Texas Family Code provides an additional tool generally used in divorce called an Inventory & Appraisement. It requires a party to provide a listing of all community and separate property and debts with values.

What Kind Of Information Will I Have To Give? How Invasive Should I Expect This Process To Be?

Generally, in responses to discovery you will be required to provide some general personal information and specific information about the assets and debts of the parties. You may also be required to provide very personal information depending upon what is alleged by the other party. Allegations that could require very personal discovery responses include drug and alcohol use/abuse, mental stability, sexual practices, child abuse or neglect, and spousal abuse.

Do Most Family Law Cases In Texas Generally Settle At The Discovery Stage?

Most Texas family cases either are already settled and agreed to at the time of hiring an attorney or they settle at mediation. Discovery generally provides the tools to use at mediation to settle the case.

How Long Do I Have To Answer A Discovery Request In My Family Law Case In Texas?

In Texas, most responses to discovery are due thirty (30) days after receipt of the request. Discovery served with the petition (the initial pleading) are due 50 days after service.

What Happens If One Side Fails To Respond To Requests For Admissions Or Subpoenas Duces Tecum In The Proper Time Frame?

Failure to respond to admissions within the 30 day response time are “deemed admitted”. It then becomes difficult and expensive to reverse the failure to respond to admissions. The consequences for a failure to respond to subpoenas duces tecum, requests for production, and interrogatories are a little less draconian. However, without responding timely, you may waive “objections” that you have to the discovery.

What Happens If One Party Fails To Appear For His Or Her Deposition?

The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure provide that you may be subject to sanctions if you fail to appear for a “noticed” deposition. Sanctions may include the cost of the opposing attorney’s time and the cost of the court reporter.

Is Discovery Incredibly Expensive? Is It Worth It?

Discovery of information about an opposing party’s case is always necessary. Whether you need the formal discovery tools of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure is a question of cost vs. benefit. That decision is one you make jointly with your attorney based upon the allegations, the facts, and the stakes (monetary or the wellbeing of a child).

What Factors Do You Consider When Determining Whether Or Not Discovery Is Required In A Family Law Case?

Factors used to determine whether formal discovery is necessary are:

1. what are the allegations;

2. how much information does my client have vs. the other party;

3. what information is necessary to allow my client to make an informed decision about the case and cost.

For more information on Response To Discovery In Family Law Cases, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (972) 746-2805 today.