Discovery in Florida Divorce Cases
In order to get divorced, you must file a divorce petition, and your spouse should respond to it. You must attend divorce mediation. Your case probably will not go to trial, but if it does, then this will only happen after mediation. By the time your divorce is final, you will have a marital settlement agreement or a divorce decree listing the division of your property. If you and your ex-spouse have minor children, then you will have a court-ordered plan and a child support order. The missing ingredient in this process is discovery. Discovery is at once the most suspenseful and the least cinematic part of divorce. A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you navigate the discovery phase of your divorce case so you can avoid unnecessary delays and stress.
How Does Discovery Work?
Discovery is the stage of a civil lawsuit (including but not limited to divorce proceedings) where the parties to the lawsuit (the spouses in a divorce case, but the plaintiff and defendant in many other cases) officially request information from each other. These are some of the techniques of discovery they can use:
- Request for documents – a written request to your spouse, requiring your spouse to provide hard copies or electronic copies of relevant documents
- Deposition – a question and answer session with a lawyer, done under oath and considered as official testimony
- Interrogatories – written questions for your spouse to answer
- Subpoena – a request for someone other than your spouse to give a deposition or provide physical evidence
Why Is Discovery So Important, and Why Is It So Stressful?
Discovery can only happen after one spouse has filed a divorce petition and the other spouse has responded to it. Divorce mediation, during which the parties negotiate to reach a settlement about division of property and finalize a parenting plan, cannot begin until discovery is complete. If the case goes to trial, discovery provides the raw material on which the parties base their arguments and on which the judge bases his or her decision.
Discover is stressful in all legal cases because it requires you to hand over information that you know the other party will use against you in court. It is doubly stressful in divorce cases because it requires you to ask your spouse point blank about all the information your spouse has been hiding and all the information you went out of your way not to find out during your marriage. When you receive the information, you might find out that your spouse’s affair started even earlier than you realized or that your in-laws were trying to break up your marriage from the start.
You Probably Need a Divorce Lawyer to Help With Discovery
Many couples file for divorce with the intention of not getting lawyers involved. When it comes to matters of discovery, such as requesting your spouse’s business tax returns or taking a deposition from your spouse’s affair partner, you might find that you need a lawyer.
Contact Schwartz | White About the Discovery Process
A South Florida family law attorney can help you with the discovery phase of your divorce case. Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.