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What are the Different Forms of Discovery in a Divorce Case?

The legal process of obtaining divorce, legitimation and or child custody in the state of Georgia is governed by the Civil Practice Act. One of the most important things that is done at the beginning of the divorce legal process is obtaining information from the other side that will assist with the case. Information needed to prepare for a divorce or custody action may come in the form of bank statements, pay stubs, travel receipts and other forms of documents that will assist the court in determining how assets are divided or how much assistance a spouse or child may be entitled to. The time generally provided for discovery to be completed is six months. During that period attorneys for both sides will utilize litigation techniques such as interrogatories, requests for document production and notice to produce, requests for admissions and depositions in order to obtain the necessary information.

Interrogatories are a very common way to obtain information during the divorce process. Interrogatories are a list of questions posed by one side in the litigation that are required to be answered truthfully. According to O.C.G.A §9-11-33 any party may serve upon another party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served. Each set of interrogatories are required to be answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless objected to, within 30 days of service. Your divorce attorney will work with you to prepare interrogatories that will obtain all of the necessary information to proceed with your argument for division of assets, child support, alimony and modifications, depending on the case. The information requested can include but is not limited to background information about the party, employment information and other information related to child-care.

Parties to a divorce or child custody litigation may also request the production of documents. Under O.C.G.A §9-11-34 a party may request certain documents during the discovery phase of the divorce process. A party may request documents such as multiple years of tax returns, W-2, pay stubs, income sources, proof of childcare and school-related expenses, business ownership information and a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit (DRFA).

Requests for admissions are posed to the other party requiring them to make factual admissions regarding the case. In other words, “admit or deny”. Similar to interrogatories, the receiving party can object to the requests instead of answering it and reserve the issue for the court. However, if the court determines that the question is valid, they will have to answer or be held in contempt.

Depositions are face-to-face interviews that involves an examination and opportunity for cross-examination by the other side. These are transcribed by a court reporter and also video recorded. This gives the other side an opportunity to ask questions under oath to lock the other side into a position, evaluate the quality of the witness and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their case.

In divorce cases the most common form of discovery technique are interrogatories. In most divorce cases, it is advisable to pose interrogatories at the initiation of the case, especially if the divorce is contentious and/or complex with multiple issues to resolve. As with all forms of discovery in divorce, the information requested is generally personal in nature and is often met with objection from the other side. If the other side is not compliant with the discovery requests, the attorney for the requesting party may submit a motion for the court to hold the other party in contempt. This could expose the non-compliant party to fines and or require them to pay attorney’s fees. The discovery process is a critical part of the divorce process. An experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through the process of preparing interrogatories in order to obtain information necessary for your case. Additionally, it is also important to have representation as you respond to discovery requests from the other side to ensure that all of your rights are protected. The Faucette Law Firm, LLC represents clients in all divorce and family law related matters including contested and uncontested divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, legitimation and modifications. We serve Atlanta, Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Gwinnett, Carroll, Coweta, Fayette, Henry and Paulding. Contact our law firm today for a consultation.