Discovery is an essential part of most cases, and cases in family law are no exception. Discovery is the process through which you and your lawyer gather evidence. It is also how you can determine the type of evidence and strategies that the other side intends to use at trial. There are many types of discovery that can be used in family law cases, and each type of discovery is designed to achieve a different goal.
One of the most widely-known types of discovery is called a deposition. A deposition is an in-person type of discovery, wherein the attorneys will ask a witness questions, the answers to those questions will be recorded by a court reporter, and given under oath. This type of discovery is useful when your attorney needs to ask follow-up questions and dig deeper into a witness’s answers. A deposition also will allow your attorney to observe the demeanor of the witness, making it easier to figure out if the witness is lying and consider whether he or she will appear credible to a judge at trial. Usually the witness being deposed is the other parent or spouse, but a deposition may also be used to get answers from other types of witnesses, such as employers, counselors, doctors, teachers, or any other person who may be in possession of facts that could bolster your case. A draw back to depositions is the expense, so you and your attorney should carefully consider whether the cost of the deposition is worth it in light of the information to be gained.
Discovery may also be in writing. Interrogatories will allow your attorney to ask many of the same questions that he or she could have asked during depositions, and are crucial in forcing an opponent to articulate the reasons he or she believes he or she is entitled to the relief requested. Written discovery could also be used to force the opponent to produce certain types of documents. This is especially vital when the opponent is in possession of documents that you cannot obtain. For example, if your spouse is the only person whose name is on investment accounts or retirement resources, this type of discovery is essential to obtain copies of these documents and provide an accurate presentation to the court as to what marital assets exist to be divided. It should be noted that written discovery of this type cannot be used against a witness, so in such a situation, your attorney may opt instead to conduct a deposition of that witness.Discovery is an essential, although often complicated process. We have helped many clients select the appropriate discovery for their case, and used the information to achieve their goals. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 for an appointment to talk about your case.