Discovery: What is it and do I Need to do it?

This Week’s Blog by Nicole M. DiGiose.

What is Discovery?

 Discovery is the process by which information is exchanged in your divorce case. Discovery typically involves written requests for documents, written requests for answers to questions, and depositions. During the discovery process, each side will have the opportunity to get transparency on the family’s financial circumstances, as well as the causes for the breakdown of the marriage. Discovery is permitted if the disclosure sought would be of assistance in the prosecution or defense of the action.

 When does the Discovery Process Start?

 A party may file a Request for Production at any time after the Return Date. The Return Date is selected when a divorce action is commenced. It is approximately thirty days after the initial divorce papers are signed.

 What is a Request for Production?

 A Request for Production is a written request for the other party to provide certain documents. Typically, the documents requested are related to a party’s income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and the causes for the breakdown of the marriage. A Request for Production is not necessarily a standard form. In a Connecticut divorce, certain discovery is mandatory: tax returns, W-2s, K-1s, and 1099s, paystubs, account statements, retirement statements, life insurance statements, medical insurance summaries, and appraisals. However, a party may request other categories of documents, for example, those related to trusts and estates, businesses, telephone records, calendars, and photographs.

How Long do I have to Respond to a Request for Production?

Sixty days, but an extension may be sought.

What are Requests to Admit?

A Request to Admit is a written request for the other party to admit or deny certain statements under oath. Similar to a Request to Admit is a Request for Interrogatories. A Request for Interrogatories is a written request for the other party to answer certain questions under oath. A Request for Interrogatories is rarely used in a Connecticut divorce. More often, Depositions are taken instead if a party can afford the cost.

How Long do I have to Respond to a Request to Admit and a Request for Interrogatories?

Thirty days, but an extension may be sought. If a response is not given within thirty days, or longer pursuant to an extension, all requests are deemed to be admitted. A party has sixty days to respond to a Request for Interrogatories.

 Can I Object to a Discovery Request?

 In a Connecticut divorce, discovery is broad. However, some requests may be objectionable. A party may object to a particular request on the grounds that it is overly broad, unduly burdensome, not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, not reasonably limited in scope or timeframe, or crafted merely to harass, annoy, or embarrass the party from whom discovery is sought. Pursuant to Practice Book Section 13-10(i), the attorneys must first make good faith attempts to resolve the objection, and only if they are unable to do so, a Judge will rule on the objection. If an objection is overruled, the documents must be produced by a date set by the Judge.

What Happens if a Party Doesn’t Respond to a Discovery Request?

If a party does not respond to a Discovery request, the requesting party may file a Motion to Compel, also known as a Motion for Order of Compliance. That Motion requests that a Judge order the other party to produce the requested documents.

 What is a Deposition?

 A Deposition is when an attorney orally asks the other party questions under oath outside of Courtroom setting, usually in a lawyer’s office

 Is Discovery the Same in Every Case?

 No. The amount of discovery needed, as well as the method(s) by which discovery is obtained will vary on a case by case basis. Complex cases typically require a more thorough investigation. This may occur where a party’s income structure is not straightforward, or if there are business interests or investments, for example. The form(s) of discovery, as well as the specific requests, are tailored to the needs of each case.

 Whether it’s deciding which discovery mechanisms to utilize, compiling your discovery responses, or reviewing the other party’s discovery responses, our skilled attorneys at Broder & Orland LLC will walk you through every step of the discovery process.