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Discovery in California Dissolution (Divorce) Litigation

Discovery in California dissolution (divorce) proceedings is the topic of this blog post.

Parties in California divorce proceedings can utilize the same discovery procedures as are used in California civil litigation as the same rules and procedures are applicable unless another statute or rule has been adopted by the California Judicial Council.  See Family Code § 210.

The importance of discovery in divorce and other family law litigation cannot be emphasized enough.  Utilizing discovery correctly can mean the difference between winning and losing for many divorce cases.  Yet many law firms and solo attorneys are so overworked and understaffed that they do not have the time to propound enough discovery on their divorce cases.  The result is that many cases which could have been won at trial, or a reasonable settlement reached before trial, instead are lost.  The following discovery procedures have been found to be very cost effective in divorce cases.

Form Interrogatories for divorce cases are available using Form FL-145. This form is extremely useful as the questions are specifically tailored to the issues involved in a typical case.  For instance a party may ask the other party to provide the last three (3) years tax returns, and also to complete a Schedule of Assets and Debts Form FL-142 if that form is attached to the Form Interrogatories.

Special Interrogatories,  Requests for Production and Inspection of Documents and other Tangible Things, and Requests for Admission can also be used.

The California courts have ruled that the scope of discovery in California litigation is very broad.  Any doubts are applied liberally in favor of discovery.

For discovery purposes, information is relevant if it might reasonably assist a party in evaluating case, preparing for trial, or facilitating settlement. Gonzalez v. Superior Court (City of San Fernando (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 1539, 1546.

Admissibility is not the test and information, unless privileged, is discoverable if it might reasonably lead to admissible evidence. Davies v. Superior Court (1984) 36 Cal.3d 291, 301.

Clearly then,  propounding discovery is a vital tool in (1) evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case; (2) preparing for trial, and (3) facilitating settlement.

Form and special interrogatories, request for admissions, and requests for production and inspection of documents and other tangible things all need to be utilized so that the facts, witnesses and documents that support the opposing party’s claims or defenses can be ascertained, deposed and reviewed, and getting certain admissions or denials of issues relevant to the divorce on record before the trial.

Attorneys or parties in California who wish to view a portion of sample request for production of documents specifically designed for use in divorce cases with 36 separate categories of document requests for sale by the author can see below.

Attorneys or parties in California that would like more information on a California divorce litigation document package containing over 45 sample documents including a sample requests for production of documents with 36 separate categories of documents can use the link shown below.

California divorce litigation document package

The author of this article, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995.

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter with legal tips and tricks for California. http://www.legaldocspro.net/newsletter.htm

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