In California a spouse/partner must cooperatively, fully and fairly disclose all assets and liabilities while legally separating and/or dissolving a marriage or domestic partnership in California. (California Civil Discovery Act)
What you need to know
In general all unprivileged information that is relevant to a marriage, legal separation or divorce may be discovered if it would be admissible evidence at trial or it appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
Understanding and leveraging discovery correctly can mean the difference between winning and losing a divorce case.
What types of discovery tools are there:
Interrogatories are written questions used by one spouse to get from the other, written answers under oath by declaration. (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2030.250).
Inspection demands can be used to compel a spouse to produce tangible things and electronically-stored data in his or her possession or control for inspection, copying, testing or sampling. (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2031.010 et seq.) Inspection demands also may used to gain entry and/or access to real property and buildings under a spouse’s control.
Depositions testimony is taken orally under oath by an attorney asking questions and a person, “the deponent”, answering. A court reporter or other audio video recorder (sometimes both) records the testimony, which may be used at trial. The witness may be cross-examined and his/her attorney can make evidentiary objections and invoke privileges.
Subpoenas are used to compel nonparties to attend, testify and/or produce documents, electronically-stored information or tangible things. There are three types of subpoenas.
Requests for Admissionsare used to force a spouse to “admit the genuineness of specified documents, or the truth of specified matters of fact, opinion relating to fact, or application of law to fact.” (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2033.010)
Authorizations for Release of Records may be signed voluntarily or by order of the court to authorize the release of records by a third party, like the IRS or financial institutions.
Motions to Compel are used to enforce formal discovery demands after “reasonable and good faith attempts at an informal resolution” fail. The law requires attorneys or self represented parties to meet and confer in a good faith attempt to resolve compliance issues. Failure to meet and confer constitutes “discovery misuse” for which sanctions “shall” be imposed. (California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 2023.010(i) and 2023.020)
As well as specializing in filing various forms of discovery tools we are also equally experienced in responding to such actions. Please feel free to reach out to us for a free evaluation of your case.
In California the courts have ruled that the scope of discovery in California litigation is very broad. Any doubts are applied liberally in favor of discovery.