Discovery is a catch-all term that describes the rights of the parties to a lawsuit to learn about the information their opponent has. The discovery phase of a lawsuit usually begins as soon as the lawsuit is filed, and lasts until the parties feel it is completed, or until a court-ordered cutoff date. Typical discovery consists of written discovery, like interrogatories and requests for production of documents, as well as non-written discovery, like depositions, physical examinations of places and items, and psychological examinations of people.
As a general rule, a party is entitled to discover any information possessed by their opponent that is relevant to the lawsuit and that is not exempted from disclosure. In family law cases, we are permitted to discover information that is not usually relevant to other kinds of lawsuits. We usually have ready access to both parties’ financial information, medical information, and other personal information.
Discovery is indispensable. Frequently, a party who will end up paying child support or alimony will not want to pay as much as the law requires. In those cases, discovery is used to get the information that is needed to show the court how much child support or alimony should be paid.
When custody is an issue, your opponent will not want the court to know about the skeletons in their closet. They usually do not volunteer the bad information that is relevant to a custody determination and that is important for a court’s consideration. Discovery is how we get that bad information for the court.
Of course, it’s important to remember that discovery is had by both sides to the lawsuit. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
In short, in my opinion, cases can be won or lost based on the information that is obtained through the discovery process. It can be time-consuming and difficult, but it a gift to your case and should not be undervalued.
If you have any questions about discovery in Arkansas family law cases, I’m happy to visit with you. I can be reached on my cell phone at 501-519-0186, or at the office at 501-222-7378, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, thanks for reading!