“Discovery” is the process of obtaining information for determining the applicable claims, defenses, and information which may be used in anticipation of trial.
This can include serving requests for written responses from a particular party to the litigation to be returned under the penalty of perjury, requests for the exchange of documents and information related to those documents, requests for admission in terms of truthfulness or falsity as to a particular statement or fact, subpoenas for consumer or other business-related information, depositions, and expert and witness exchange information.
The process itself can to some extent be as complex and costly as you want it to be, or it can alternatively be completed for a relatively efficient return on investment. This is also a specific reason why a licensed California attorney who is familiar and skilled in the practice of conducting discovery will be beneficial to any Family law litigation you may be involved in.
Regardless of the expansive range that discovery can cover, and the potential costs associated with conducting discovery, it is a process that is criminally underused in most family law litigation. It is also a process which many family law attorneys may be ill prepared to deal with, as the nature of family law practice is not as discovery intensive as other areas of litigation, which may also lead to their discussing litigation alternatives with their clients earlier on. Even if that outcome doesn’t occur, it may become apparent to that attorney through responding to your discovery that a particular claim or defense will not be sustainable also.
Be Your Own Driver:
Furthermore, I feel safe in saying that pretty much any attorney in any type of case will often hear their clients express a very real frustration regarding why a particular party to a case may be making an allegedly baseless claim, or that the person has not been truthful in Court, or in their disclosures, and there is a clear and direct route for these Clients to attempt to remediate or clarify that information in the eyes of the Court.
However, rather than preparing to conduct discovery the potential costs often lead Clients to attempt to resolve these matters in open court, through further negotiation, or to minimize the amount of discovery conducted. This is almost always a poor return on investment in terms of how these results, litigation, and timelines with their associated costs then end up.
Paying Now Saves Later:
Serving discovery early on once a dispute, misstatement, or falsehood has been raised either in pleading or verbally in court is the most efficient way to drive your litigation rather than being a passenger to someone else’s.
This can also lead to more honest and meaningful settlement negotiations because it will be clear that you will put your money behind your contentions and that you are taking this matter seriously. In the event it does not lead to settlement, you’ve not lost any benefit from the process either as it will be integral in preparing your claims and defenses for any relevant hearing or trial.
Essentially, “you have to pay to play” if you want to hedge your bets either going to trial and/or ascertaining the available evidence and position in anticipation of settlement, failing to do so generally leads to increased costs, longer timelines, and potentially worse results in Court than preparing beforehand through the use of discovery.
For example, in the context of lacking financial disclosures, much of that information is often available via subpoena to the applicable financial provider for that account or asset. You don’t even need to serve discovery necessarily on the other party in the litigation to obtain portions of their “books” for things like most checking and savings accounts, you can simply serve a subpoena for their applicable records for that account.
This circumvents having to obtain those documents from them, you would be able to use that evidence in Court, and in the context of a consumer subpoena, they will be aware (with the ability to object potentially) that you are “digging”. This alone can often lead to the phone being picked up.
The nature of your case may necessitate differing levels of discovery, but this should be an initial consideration as part of any litigation you may be involved in. Waiting to serve discovery in the hope of an early and less costly settlement more often than not amounts to chasing pie in the sky.
So, please take my recommendation and discuss preparing discovery relevant to your case with your licensed California attorney because you’re incurring that cost now to build your case early on, will almost always lead to superior results in the future.
You can lose your litigation, but you don’t lose by serving discovery.