The process of answering questions and disclosing information needed to settle or litigate your divorce petition is called discovery in Texas divorce. Each party can seek information from the other to get a more accounting of assets, liabilities and issues involving the children and parties in the marriage.
It is common that one of the spouses was the recordkeeper during the marriage and had access to all the information about finances and accounts. There may be requests for information in discovery documents to which one spouse might not have access. In other cases, spouses fail to or refuse to provide the requested information. Where needed the court can order a spouse to comply with discovery or face penalties. Subpoenas may also be issued directly to banks and institutions for records.
Different Forms of Discovery
Depending on the size of the marital estate or complexity of issues in the divorce, especially concerning children, the discovery process can be short and simple or more complex and litigated. Some or all the following forms of discovery can be used in a Texas divorce. Written discovery requests may be sent to the opposing party up until 60 days before trial and the responses to discovery requests must me made within 30 days unless otherwise ordered by the court.
- Depositions. At a deposition, the other lawyer asks you questions and a court reporter is present to make a record later to be transcribed. In depositions the attorneys get the parties to lay out their testimony on issues in the divorce, which may be useful later in settlement or trial.
- Interrogatories. A set of interrogatories is a list of written questions to identify relevant information such as the name and location of bank accounts and property. Where you work, and your income information may also be asked in an interrogatory.
- Request for Admissions. Another written discovery option is a request for admissions in which the party to divorce is asked to admit or deny a specific statement such as admit or deny that you have a post office box where you are receiving some of your mail. The individual must respond in writing and admit or deny the statement within 30 days or it is deemed admitted by the court.
- Request for Disclosure. A very common written discovery tool is a request for the disclosure of information about a person or party to the divorce and their legal theories as to why they should receive what they seek in the divorce. Who they may call to testify as witnesses in hearings and trial is also information sought in a request for disclosure.
- Request for Production and Inspection. The request for production concerns the bank statements, tax records and documentation about income and assets that are organized and turned over to the law firm for review and inspection. When there are documents or items that cannot be produced for inspection in digital or paper form, they may be made available for inspection at a set time and place, such as the inspection of a safety deposit box at a bank.
How to prepare information for your lawyer
Be as organized as you can when preparing your discovery responses for your lawyer’s review so that they can prepare the proper discovery responses. The information you provide such as tax returns, bank and credit card statements and documentation about land and property is used by the lawyers and court to establish and properly distribute the assets and property of the marriage.
The better you can separate and organize your information, the more time and money you can save so your attorney and their staff can process your information. For example, statements organized in date order and fastened separately or in a folder or binder make information easy to find.
For information about Texas divorce and family law please call Attorney Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas by dialing (940) 691-2100.
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Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.