Basic Types of Discovery and When They're Used / by Cassandra Hearn

During almost every family law case, whether that is divorce, child custody, or simple child support, you and your attorney will need to complete a process called “discovery.”  Discovery is a broad term that encompasses several different types of tools your attorney will use to find evidence and determine the strategy of your opponent. There are many different types of discovery, and each has its own special uses.

 A deposition is a type of discovery that many people are familiar with, or have seen on television. If you are going to give a deposition, you will be required to give oral answers, under oath. The other attorney is permitted to ask a very broad array of questions, ranging from simple questions such as your name and address, to your position in the case, to very private and intimate details about your life. Any questions that are reasonably designed to lead to evidence that would be admissible at trial may be asked at a deposition. Depositions are useful tools for an attorney. Your attorney may ask the other side questions, observe reactions, and ask immediate follow up questions. By asking questions, your attorney can force the other party to commit to a certain version of events or theory for the case. This will help your attorney to prepare for trial. Parties and witnesses may be required to give a deposition.

 Discovery may also be conducted in writing instead of in person. Interrogatories are questions that a party must answer under oath. Unlike depositions, interrogatories may only be required of the parties. Your attorney cannot force a witness to respond to interrogatories (except in rare scenarios where the witness may be incapable of being deposed). The advantage of interrogatories over depositions is that they are generally much less expensive. The draw back, however, is that your attorney will not be able to ask immediate follow up questions or observe the other party’s demeanor.

 Inspection demands are also crucial to these cases. An inspection demand is used to require a party to produce documents or other “tangible items” for review. These could include medical records, financial account statements, deeds, or another documents in the party’s control. An inspection demand could also be made to force a party to allow inspection of a physical piece of property, such as real estate. This is useful when the value or usefulness of a particular piece of property is at issue, and both sides need to be able to examine the property before trial.

  We have extensive experience in using the full range of discovery to our clients’ advantage. Call us today for an appointment at 619-800-0384 to talk about your case and how we can help you gather the necessary evidence to attain your goal.