Once a divorce petition has been served, some couples are fortunate enough to end their marriage with minimal conflict. Divorcing spouses who are willing to cooperate and compromise when necessary are more likely to reach a divorce agreement that both parties are satisfied with, in addition to avoiding the financial and emotional costs of drawn-out litigation in court.
However, when two partners are unable or unwilling to work together, the divorce process can become long, tedious, and even bitter. In a Texas divorce, the court proceedings begin with discovery. In discovery, each side begins gathering information from the other. While it isn’t uncommon for one spouse to keep track of the finances and pertinent information in a marriage—such as assets, liabilities, incomes, and expenses—keep in mind that both parties are legally entitled to access such information.
In some cases, a spouse may request information that they lack access to. If the other spouse fails or refuses to provide the requested information, the court may order him or her to comply with discovery or face legal penalties.
Types of Discovery in a Texas Divorce
There are different forms of discovery used in Texas divorces. Determining the type that is most relevant to your case depends on the size of your estate and the relevance of key issues, such as child custody and child support.
Written discovery requests may be sent up to 60 days before trial. Responses to discovery requests must be made within 30 days.
In a deposition, attorneys question both parties with a court reporter present to record and eventually transcribe the deposition. Parties are asked to give their sworn testimony on issues in the divorce that might be useful later in the settlement or trial.
An interrogatory is a list of written questions meant to identify relevant information, such as a party's employment, income, property, and the names and locations of financial institutions in which a party has any accounts. They are similar to a deposition; however, interrogatory questions are administered in a written format rather than asked verbally.
Request for Admission
A request for admission is when the party to divorce is asked to “admit” or “deny” a specific statement, such as whether they have a separate bank account in which a certain amount of money is kept. The party must respond in writing and admit or deny this statement within 30 days, or the information is deemed admitted to court.
Request for Disclosure
A request for disclosure is the request for information pertaining to anyone who might be called to testify in a hearing or trial, correct parties, and the legal theories of the case.
Effective January 1, 2021, the Texas Supreme Court made changes to the Request for Disclosures and mandated specific information to be exchanged by both parties 30 days after the respondent files an answer to the lawsuit.
The required disclosures have all the same information as the request for disclosures, but also require the exchange of:
- Real estate information
- Retirement plans
- Insurance policies
- Bank statements
- Tax returns
- Health insurance information
Request for Production & Inspection
This requests documentation entailing certain information, such as bank account statements, tax records, and income information. Such materials must be organized and turned over to the opposing counsel for inspection. If documents can't be produced on paper or digitally, such as safe deposit boxes, a time and place may be set up for inspection.
In this case, the party makes a list of all assets he or she is aware of and whether they are considered separate property (individually owned) or community property (jointly owned). The list will then be signed under oath.
Inventories are an excellent means to obtain an overall snapshot of the whole “marital pie.” In the end, even the best lawyer can draw an unfavorable ruling if they lack proper information going into trial. Fortunately, discovery provides that information.
If both sides can make an effort to cooperate during discovery, divorcing couples can save both themselves and their attorneys time, money, and grief in the long run.
Contact a Trusted Texas Divorce Lawyer
Our firm understands that family law disputes, such as divorce or child custody battles, can take a significant emotional and financial toll on Texas families. If you’re preparing for family court, you don’t have to navigate the legal proceedings alone. The Law Office of Nancy Perry Eaton, PLLC has a longstanding reputation for providing honest and dependable legal representation for Texans in need. With over three decades of experience, our compassionate family lawyers are well-equipped to protect your best interests in court and empower you to take the first step toward a better future.
If you’re filing for divorce in Killeen or the surrounding area, it’s wise to secure representation from a trusted divorce attorney. Call (254) 221-8588 to schedule a consultation.