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Discovery: Just What Is It?
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Going through a divorce or navigating another legal issue with the help of a family lawyer will generally involve a straightforward legal process. Understanding what to expect each step of the way can make the road ahead easier to travel. One of the milestones in many legal proceedings is a process known as discovery. This pre-trial process is a bit of a hassle and generally isn’t much fun, but it can be critical for the outcome of a case.
Discovery, in a nutshell, is the phase of a legal case where both parties are required to present the issues and facts of their case prior to a trail. Each party involved will generally serve requests for information (discovery) to learn more about the opposing side’s case and what evidence may be presented in a trial. The process essentially provides disclosure while giving parties on both sides of the case a chance to prepare for what information may be presented in court.
There are four basic types of written discovery that may be served during the course of a legal proceeding. They are:
• Request for production and inspection – This type of request requires the party to produce specific documents and other items to make them available for inspection. This tends to be the most time consuming part of the process. In divorces, for example, bank statements, credit card statements, paystubs and retirement accounts going back several years may be requested.
• Written interrogatories – This type of request requires the recipient to answer questions related to the case and sign their answers in front of a notary. The process is meant to help establish the basic facts of a case prior to a trial.
• Request for disclosure – This basic information request involves specific categories that may apply to all cases.
• Request for admissions – This request asks the opposing party to admit or deny facts that are related to a case. This form of discovery is not used very often and is employed generally to shorten trial time by establishing facts to which there is no real controversy.
The discovery process can be time-consuming and routine interrupting on both sides. Despite its burdens, the process is crucial for the outcome of a case. Discovery enables a family lawyer to better evaluate and handle a case before it goes before a judge or jury. The more detailed the process and accurate the answers, the better equipped a lawyer will be in helping present the case at hand.
Nunneley Family Law has been helping families in the Fort Worth and Mid-Cities area resolve complicated family law issues for over 35 years. Their team of professionals provides the clarity and focus you need to break through the turmoil and reach equitable and fair closure.
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