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Parties in California divorce proceedings can utilize the same discovery procedures as are used in California civil litigation as the same rules and procedures are applicable unless another statute or rule has been adopted by the California Judicial Council. Family Code § 210. The importance of discovery in family law litigation cannot be emphasized enough. It can mean the difference between winning and losing in certain cases. Form Interrogatories for divorce and other family law cases are available using Judicial Council Form FL-145. This form is extremely useful as the questions are specifically tailored to the issues involved in a typical case. For instance a party may ask the other party to provide the last three (3) years tax returns, and also to complete a Schedule of Assets and Debts, Judicial Council Form FL142, if that form is attached to the Form Interrogatories and the appropriate box is checked. The other party has thirty five (35) calendar days to respond if the Form Interrogatories are served by first class mail. In the opinion of the author, the Form Interrogatories should be utilized and served concurrently with the Response even in a simple case as they are relatively simple to understand and can be completed fairly quickly. Proper use of the Form Interrogatories is an easy and quick way to obtain the most information with a minimum of effort. Special Interrogatories are also extremely useful as a party can request the other party to state all facts, identify all persons having personal knowledge of the facts, and all documents in support of the facts, which support the other party’s request for attorney’s fees, sole custody, spousal support and other requests or contentions made in that party’s Petition or Response. The requests for production and inspection of documents and other tangible things are useful in obtaining bank and financial records and other documents that are pertinent to the issues involved in the divorce proceeding. And a party can demand that the other party allow them to inspect and to photograph, test, or sample any tangible things that are in the possession, custody, or control of the party on whom the demand is made, as well as demand that any other party produce and permit the party making the demand, or someone acting on that party's behalf, to inspect, copy, test, or sample electronically stored information in the possession, custody, or control of the party on whom demand is made. Thus a party who believes that the other party is hiding assets may demand to inspect their computer, or other electronically stored information. This could be extremely valuable as computer records may show certain websites that were visited such as bank websites for hidden accounts, or e-mails to banks or other parties which have information on where hidden assets are located. And many people keep a spreadsheet or other list of their assets on their computer thinking that their spouse will never find it. Even if the information has been deleted it may still be possible to recover it from the computer with the help of a forensic computer expert. While most cases do not have enough assets to justify the expense, in the right type of case it could prove very useful. And last, but certainly not least, requests for admission can be used to request the other party to
admit or deny certain pertinent facts, and/or admit that certain attached documents are genuine. In a more complex case involving a long term marriage (over 10 years), minor children, and numerous community property assets and obligations, all of the discovery requests mentioned in this blog post should be at least considered, if not actually used. If you enjoy this newsletter, tell others about it. They can subscribe by visiting the following link: http://www.legaldocspro.net/newsletter.htm Have a great week and thanks for being a subscriber. Yours Truly, Stan Burman The author of this newsletter, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California civil litigation since 1995. The author’s website: http://www.legaldocspro.net View numerous sample document sold by the author: http://www.scribd.com/legaldocspro © 2012 Stan Burman. All rights reserved. DISCLAIMER: Please note that the author of this newsletter, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this newsletter is NOT intended to constitute legal advice. These materials and information contained in this newsletter have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this newsletter is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the sender and receiver. Subscribers and any other readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.