Understand Your Discovery Rights and Responsibilities: San Diego Divorce & Legal Separation: 2011

San Diego discovery rules and procedures for legal separation and divorce are governed by the California Code of Civil Procedure. This article will not use code sections but will describe the discovery process in San Diego for a divorce or legal separation. Discovery can be used for the issues of spousal support, child support, asset or debt. Discovery is a very broad word which encompasses many procedures: request for written interrogatories; production of documents; deposition; request for admissions; asset searches, subpoenas, special masters, record depositions, arbitration and expert witnesses among others. In San Diego, discovery is a tool which can be used to force the providing of information from the other spouse. In a divorce or legal separation, accurate information is necessary to make informed and intelligent decisions. An attorney’s job is to properly analyze the current and future values and to make the division in accordance with California law.

Requests for written interrogatories is a common discovery procedure. This is a pleading which asks for information including gifts, attorney fees paid, children’s needs, health conditions, all insurance policies, any claims for reimbursement credits, retirement accounts and all other deferred benefit pensions, stock options, restricted stock units, 401K, 403B, property held by others, values of any property or assets, any position taken that an asset is separate property, any position taken that an asset is quasi community property, tax returns, income and pay stubs, profit and loss, current income, any support received by others, any support provided to others, any persons sharing your residence, any legal actions pending outside of the divorce such as a lawsuit or bankruptcy, any agreements reached and many others.

Demand for production of documents is also a common discovery procedure. This is a list of all of the documents you would like provided. This list can come off of the schedule of assets and debts and would include, but is not limited to, real property, personal property, bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles, planes, boats, account receivables, business interests, tax refunds and many others. Speak with your attorney about tailoring a list for your case to be the most efficient and cost effective.

A deposition, whether transcribed and/or video recorded, can be a very effective method of obtaining information. The deponent [person being deposed] is placed under oath by the Reporter who than takes down both questions and answers. In addition, the notice for deposition can also include to bring documents so that questions can be asked at that time. After the deposition, the reporter prepares the deposition transcript. This transcript is then sent to the deponent who has a short period of time [normally 30 days] to make any changes {errata} and then sign. The deposition can then be used for all purposes including court hearings. A deposition can be very expensive so it is essential to have the list of questions so that (1) the deposition will proceed expeditiously and (2) so that no questions are missed. Normally, only one deposition is allowed in a pre judgment divorce or legal separation in San Diego.

Requests for admissions is another procedure. This is a pleadings asking for an admission or a denial. These can be very useful for different factual scenarios. For example, in spousal support, the Judge can deny spousal support to a payee even though it would normally be ordered if the payor can document that he or she was a victim of domestic violence by the payee. As such, if the payee was convicted of a domestic violence charge against the payor, asking for an admission of this would be very good evidence to argue against a spousal support order which would normally be made by the San Diego Superior Court Judge. Requests for admissions can contain many different issues and can be tailored for each individual case.

Asset searches are done by professionals who are either licensed private investigators or licensed companies to perform this work. These searches can include bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, boat, airplanes, licenses and many more. An attorney can assist you in finding the right professional to do your asset search.

If you have questions regarding the discovery in your San Diego divorce or legal separation, please feel free to contact us for a confidential consultation.

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