What is the Divorce Discovery Process?
Discovery is the process by which parties gather critical case relevant information and evidence from the opposing party. In a divorce or other domestic relations proceeding, the discovery process is the method by which you can obtain relevant information relating to financials, expenses for the children and even evidence of adultery if any exists. The Discovery period (the period of time where evidence & information is exchanged between the parties) begins once the Answer is filed by the defendant. Discovery in divorce is governed by Georgia's Civil Practice Act. In Georgia, there are several methods of formal discovery. These methods include: Interrogatories, Request for Production, Requests to Admit and Depositions. Please note that there are also informal methods to get discovery which may be faster and more cost effective.
Types of Formal Discovery in Divorce
Requests for Production
Requests for Admission
Interrogatories are a set of case relevant questions that your lawyer will prepare and send over to the opposing party. The opposing party must answer the questions in the interrogatories fully and under oath in the required amount of time.
Requests for the production of documents are exactly as they sound. Your lawyer will prepare requests that will ask the opposing party to produce certain relevant documents like bank statements etc.
Your lawyer may request that the opposing party make certain factual admissions about the divorce. Your lawyer may serve written requests for admission asking the opposing party to admit or deny certain factual statements.
Depositions allow the party's attorney to examine and confront the opposing party in person. During a deposition, both parties will show up in person with their attorneys and their attorneys will get a chance to ask the opposing party questions that must be answered fully and under an oath to tell the truth.
Conducting formal discovery can take months and it can be expensive. Sometimes it's best to start gathering documents and important relevant information before the divorce is filed or maybe just after. You don't always need the help of an attorney or the use of a formal discovery tool to obtain the information you are entitled to in your divorce. Being proactive and doing informal discovery and information gathering can help your attorney immensely and it can save you time and money.
What Happens if I Fail to Respond to Discovery Requests?
If discovery is past due or the opposing party is refusing to turn over discovery or answer it fully, it's always best to try to work out the issue with the opposing party first. If the parties cannot work it out, Georgia law allows the requesting party to "move for an order compelling an answer." Further failure to answer can result in the offending party being ordered to pay attorneys fees for the other side.