Discovery is a process that takes place during the pre-trial stage of a lawsuit. During discovery, the two parties involved share and disclose information relevant to the lawsuit.
In the context of a divorce, the two spouses engage in discovery to share information that can affect custody as well as sharing assets.
Why Is Discovery Important?
During the discovery process, each party can gather information about the other side. The goal is to paint a comprehensive picture of the assets to divide and the situation of each spouse.
Going through this process ensures the court makes a fair decision. It’s also important that both spouses can access the same information to approach the trial with full knowledge of all facts.
Minnesota is an equal distribution state, which means that spouses share assets and debts in an equal manner during a divorce. Discovery allows both parties to gain full knowledge of the existing assets and debts incurred during the marriage.
Discover is also crucial for custody agreements. When a couple with children divorces, they’ll need to negotiate physical custody, legal custody, parenting time, and child support.
Gathering information about the other party helps ensure they’re fit to be a parent, provide a safe and nurturing environment, and financially support the children.
In some cases, the discovery process can entail gathering evidence regarding a spouse’s criminal record and history of abuse to show that they’re unfit to have custody.
How Does Discovery Work?
Each divorce is different. In some cases, discovery is a short and informal process. If there are no children and both parties have always been transparent about finances, the couple can usually settle the mediation process.
However, if the divorce goes to court, both parties can establish a detailed discovery plan with a family law attorney.
Each lawyer will outline the type of information needed to negotiate and reach a fair decision. Here are a few examples of the type of information the divorcing parties usually share:
- Paystubs, bank statements, and tax returns
- Investment and retirement account statements
- Employment records or business records
- Titles and deeds for different assets
- Insurance payouts
Other forms of income, such as alimony from a previous marriage, disability, retirement income, and more.
The discovery plan can go further and include additional elements.
Interrogatories and Admission of Facts
Interrogatories and admission of facts are questions one party asks the other. The receiving party must produce an answer under oath. While interrogations are open-ended questions, admissions of facts are usually yes or no questions.
Minnesota is a no-fault state, which means adultery doesn’t have any bearing on a divorce case. However, using an admission of facts to prove adultery is crucial for a case that involves a prenuptial agreement.
You can also use interrogatories and admissions of facts to gather additional information about the other party’s employment, finances, debt, background, criminal record, and more.
Request for Production
A request for production is an official request to produce a document. It can be an official document or something else you can use as proof, such as an email or text message.
Depositions and Subpoenas
If you need to get a third-party involved, your lawyer can use a deposition to request a testimonial under oath. A court can also issue a subpoena to get a third party to testify or produce a document.
When Does Discovery Begin and End?
The discovery process begins shortly after you file for divorce. Typically, each party will have up to a month to comply with the different requests for information. You can negotiate extensions if both parties agree.
The process ends once both parties have enough information to proceed with the trial. The timeframe can vary depending on the complexity of the divorce and the parties’ willingness to collaborate.
What If the Other Party Isn’t Cooperating?
Discover is a legal process. If you’re preparing for a trial, you have a legal obligation to comply with the requests for information you receive from the other party.
If a party lies or fails to deliver the requested documents, a judge can hold them in contempt of the court and issue a fine or even decide on imprisonment.
A judge can also issue a subpoena. This formal summons to testify or produce a document comes with a steeper punishment if the recipient ignores it.
Get Help From a Family Lawyer at CJB Law Today
Discovery is a crucial step in the divorce process. Sharing and gathering information ensures that both parties can negotiate a fair agreement regarding assets or custody.
However, discovery can be long and complex. It’s best to have an experienced family lawyer to help you with the pre-trial stage.
At CJB Law, we can work with you to create a comprehensive discovery plan. We’ll issue requests for production, interrogatories, and more on your behalf to ensure you approach your divorce case with full knowledge of all facts. Contact us today to learn more.