The Discovery Process in Del Mar Family Law

September 24, 2012

440835_the_great_detective.jpgDiscovery is an important tool for any party to use in a Del Mar family law case. Through the process of discovery, parties can obtain the information necessary to reach an agreement or decide which issues are contested. Discovery tools include: interrogatories, demands for production, depositions and subpoenas. Each tool is used to obtain a specific type of information from a particular litigant, witness, or third party. Although family law attorneys usually propound and respond to discovery, the client can have a vital role in lowering costs and ensuring the process goes smoothly.

Once a family law case has been filed or a spouse is anticipating filing for divorce, each party is under a duty to preserve evidence. The court encourages parties to freely exchange information so that the court can have a complete picture of the case. Any destruction or spoliation of evidence is punishable. As a client, as soon as you know that you will be involved in litigation it is crucial to begin organizing all relevant information. Attorneys need a complete view of your finances in order to calculate possible support or to begin analyzing the division of the marital estate. The following is a list of records that will likely be important in your divorce: (1) tax returns for the past three calendar years, (2) Form W-2s for the last three calendar years, (3) a series of your most recent pay stubs, (4) all statements for each credit card and debt card as of the date of separation, (5) K-1 forms if relevant, and (6) accounting data such as QuickBooks if relevant.

The date of separation is often a focal point of the discovery process. The marital economic community ends upon the date of separation. Under the California Family Code, the date of separation occurs upon the conversion of two factors. First, the parties must effect a physical separation and second, at least one party must have the subjective intent not to resume the marital relationship. The parties can only accumulate community property during the marital economic community. Thus, any property acquired or earned after marriage until the date of separation is community property. As a general rule, community property is divided evenly between the parties upon divorce. Many San Diego spouses have a collection of credit and debit cards that both parties use on a regular basis. In a divorce, an attorney will need to know the balance of all of those accounts as of the date of separation. Printing out your most recent statements including those as of and surrounding the date of separation is an easy way to get a head start on the dissolution process. Additionally, if you know a divorce is pending, it is also prudent to gather your recent tax returns and pay stubs to provide to your attorney. The client's role in discovery is crucial, by preparing and keeping organized records, you can save your attorney time and save in legal fees.

Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only attorney in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don't settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.