Thursday, July 6, 2017

Discovery in Texas Divorce Cases

Originally published by Evan Hochschild.

What you don’t know can hurt you in a
divorce case. That is a basic statement that can apply to your divorce or any other
person who is going through the process in Texas. The information that
you have access to can be used to your advantage by sharing it with your
attorney. Your attorney can use their experience and expertise to help
you negotiate a settlement or pursue relief in court if a settlement cannot
be reached.

What happens when there is question regarding a piece of information that
is critical to your being able to make a decision but you don’t
know or don’t have access to the answer? In civil cases in Texas
formal discovery requests may be made to the opposing party in order to
ascertain the information that is sought. The following blog post details
some basic information about the process as well as information that may
be helpful on how to handle requests that may be made of you during your
divorce.

What is Discovery?

Discovery is a method by which both sides to a divorce may utilize in order
to gain access to the information they require to figure out the size
of the community estate and to learn the positions of the other party.
Depending on the type of discovery that the court has allowed for your
case there are specific time periods in your case in which discovery is
allowed. Once your case is filed my advice would be to check with your
attorney to see what types of discovery requests can be made and how soon
the requests have to be submitted to the other party.

What are the different types of discovery?

In terms of written discovery requests there are five that are generally
applicable to a
divorce in Texas:

Request for Admissions: This type of discovery request is asking a party to either “Admit”
or “Deny” that a statement made is true. If the party whose
responses are being requested does not respond within the relevant time
period (usually 30 days) all of the requests will be deemed to be admitted.
Depending on the statements that are admitted to, the failure to answer
the requests can result in your case being severely hurt.

Sworn Inventory and Appraisement: The party answering the sworn inventory and appraisement must list all
assets that he or she is aware of. The next level of this request is that
the answering party must state whether he or she believes the asset is
property of the community or separate estates of either party. It is also
necessary to assert a particular value for each asset that is listed.

Interrogatories: This discovery request is a series of questions sent to the other party
that requires he or she to respond to questions about issues that are
relevant to their divorce. Examples of issues that are often asked about
are the amount of money in particular bank accounts, information about
the party’s employment, and the name and location of every financial
institution in which the party has money being held.

Request for Production and Inspection: This is a fairly straightforward discovery request in that it is asking
for a party to produce documents to allow for the requesting party to
inspect them. In divorce cases bank account documents, mortgage documents,
retirement plan information, income related documents and telephone records
are among the most frequently requested. A party is able to “object”
to certain requests if he or she believes the request was made improperly.

Request for Disclosure: Perhaps the most common discovery request available in Texas civil cases
are requests for disclosure. These requests will ask for basic information
about the party including their full and correct name, address, legal
theories on particular subjects and the names and addresses of any witnesses
who may be called to testify.

Responding to Discovery requests made of you during a divorce

Discovery requests are all well and good when you are the requesting party.
What happens though when you are the one being asked to answer the sorts
of questions that we discussed in the prior section of this blog?

Discovery is an expensive process because answering these requests is extremely
time consuming in most instances. The fact that your responses are due
within a certain amount of time puts even greater emphasis on efficiently
responding to the requests of your opposing party. At the Law Office of
Bryan Fagan, our support staff will mail to you any discovery requests
made by the other party to your divorce along with instructions on helpful
hints on how to answer the questions. Our office will ask you for draft
responses initially and then will work with you personally on fine tuning
your responses. The
Houston divorce attorney assigned to your case will make objections where applicable and will format
your responses prior to submitting them to the opposing attorney.

Planning Ahead when Answering Discovery

I cannot speak for every family law attorney, but I can say without hesitation
that clients and attorneys work best during the discovery phase of case
when they communicate early and often regarding the responses to the discovery
requests. It will usually take two or three rounds of revisions to your
responses before they are ok to submit to the opposing party. This means
that submitting your rough draft of responses the night before the deadline
to respond is not a good idea. This applies doubly to requests for production.
Finding the documents that are being requested can be a difficult task
in and of itself. Make sure to follow the instructions and advice of your
attorney and get to work on collecting your answers and documents as soon
as you receive the discovery requests.

Experience Matters when Answering Discovery

The discovery phase of your divorce case is one of the most important.
How you respond to questions, and the requests that are made of the other
party, can go a long way towards determining the outcome of your case.
Add in the time and money commitments that are part of discovery and it
should be clear that choosing an attorney that has experience in responding
to and requesting discovery is critical.

Our attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have represented clients
across southeast Texas in divorce and
child custody cases. We offer a thorough plan when it comes to discovery that provides peace
of mind for our clients. Contact our office today with questions on discovery
or any other subject in
family law. Consultations with an attorney are free of charge and are available six
days a week.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. What is and Why do I need to do Discovery in my Texas Divorce?
  2. You’ve filed your Divorce… now what? The “Discovery Process”
    and why it’s important
  3. 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
  4. I Want a Texas Divorce but My Husband Doesn’t: What can I do?
  5. Am I Married? – Marital Status in Texas
  6. Can I sue my spouse’s mistress in Texas?
  7. 6 Tips – On How to prepare for a Texas Divorce
  8. Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
  9. 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
  10. Does it Matter who Files First in a Texas Divorce?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Attorneys

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children
and families. If you have questions regarding
divorce, it’s important to speak with one of our
Spring, TX Divorce Attorneys right away to protect your rights.

Our
divorce attorneys in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and
developing a strategy to meet those goals.
Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online
form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles
Divorce cases in Spring, Texas,
Cypress,
Spring,
Klein,
Humble,
Kingwood,
Tomball,
The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including
Harris County,
Montgomery County,
Liberty County,
Chambers County,
Galveston County,
Brazoria County,
Fort Bend County and
Waller County.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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