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Is Formal Discovery a Waste of Time in a Divorce?

“I don’t want to do formal discovery – it’s a waste of time and you just want to charge attorney’s fees!”

I’ve sometimes heard this statement, and I always say the same thing: “No, it’s not a waste of time, and discovery actually can protect you (unless you are trying to hide something).”

Discovery in Texas is conducted according to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, which states, in part: “[i]n general, a party may obtain discovery regarding any matter that is not privileged and is relevant to the subject matter of the pending action…” (Tex. R. Civ. Pro. 192.3). Although the net can be cast wide, discovery requests in family law cases will usually be tailored to find out specific information concerning you and your spouse (or the other parent’s) assets and liabilities, along with other information that would aid your attorney (and the court) in determining what will be best regarding conservatorship, rights and duties, child support, and possession and access of your child or children.

Common discovery requests include: Request for Disclosure, Request for Production and Inspection, Request for Admissions, and Interrogatories. Your attorney will be very familiar with each type of discovery request and will be able to thoroughly explain what each one is, and which responses you will need to answer under oath. Always be truthful and forthcoming with your attorney. You might also be asked to complete and exchange with the other party, a sworn Inventory and Appraisement (I&A), in which you’ll list all known assets and liabilities, under oath. In a divorce proceeding, many attorneys like to utilize sworn I&As, in addition to discovery requests or in lieu of formal discovery requests, for a more concise snapshot of the property that will need to be divided in order to effectuate a just and right division of your property.

Since some of your responses will be sworn to under oath, you must do your absolute best to be truthful and accurate.

You want to disclose all of your assets and liabilities because if you do not, the Texas Family Code allows for a post-divorce action “to divide property not divided or awarded to a spouse in a final decree of divorce or annulment” Tex. Fam. Code 9.201, subject to certain time limitations (which will be the subject of a future blog post).

In a nutshell, you hired your particular attorney to do what is in your best interests. Your will be looking at long-term goals for you, as well as your immediate needs. You don’t want to be the person who can’t see the forest for the trees.

Let an experienced, Southlake Divorce Lawyer help you through your divorce or family law matter.

The Justice Law Firm in Southlake, Texas is dedicated to helping individuals in Southlake and the surrounding areas with Divorce and Family Law issues. At the Justice Law Firm, you will find experienced and professional divorce attorneys.

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