What Is Discovery in Florida Divorce?

Discovery in Florida divorce cases is the phase in which both sides have the opportunity to learn more about the other side’s case. Discovery is all about information gathering.

Getting accurate, comprehensive information about finances and children is the foundation of a successful divorce. This is why the formal discovery process is a good idea in most contested family court cases or high net worth divorces.

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Through discovery, our attorneys learn the strengths of both sides of the case, and know how to move forward in winning your case in matters of child support, distribution of property, alimony and other key issues.

Under Florida law, you have the right to discover any evidence your spouse may have against you, or information he or she has possibly hidden from you. Discovery enables us to reach a proper, informed settlement and to effectively prepare for trial.

Tools We Use for Discovery in Florida Divorce Cases

To get all the cards on the table, our divorce attorneys use legal tools during the discovery phase to request or demand full financial disclosure from the other side:

Interrogatories: One means of collecting information is through interrogatories. These are written questions your lawyer will send to your spouse, and that you may also expect to receive from your spouse’s attorney.

Interrogatory questions are designed to cover every relevant event or possible outcome in your case. The receiving party is obligated to answer each question succinctly and directly. Interrogatories may cover:

  • all assets, expenses and debt, even those that might be “hidden
  • detailed financial and income information
  • any opposing party’s allegations
  • possible witnesses
  • any other evidence to support your case

Request for Admissions:  Your lawyer may make a written Request for Admissions to the other side. An admission is a fact or assertion that the other side agrees to as being true. A useful tool during discovery in Florida divorce, this helps lessen the facts and issues that must eventually be decided by the Court.

For example, request for admissions might state that: you and your spouse “admit” or assert that you have 3 children born to you; that all three children currently reside with (and not your spouse); that your spouse’s employer provides health insurance for the three minor children, and will continue to do so. Another example is, you and your spouse may document what you both agree to as a reasonable amount of child support.

Request for Production: Your attorney may request the other side to produce specific documents or evidence. You have the right to review and inspect these documents, which may run the gamut of information including:

Copies of all records, documents and correspondence pertaining to tax returns, savings accounts, CDs, checking accounts, financial affidavits, safe deposit boxes, brokerage accounts, investments, check stubs or other proof of income, rental income, loan applications, credit card statements, travel records – and much more.

Depositions: your attorney can conduct depositions, which is a means to formally get testimony from a party, under oath, outside of a court hearing. The person giving testimony is called a witness, and may be the other spouse, or another person with information that is useful to your case. The spouse calling the deposition questions the witness first, and the other side is then allowed to question the witness. Either side may request an official transcript from the court reporter.

Subpoenas: The subpoena is a written command from the Court to an individual to appear at a certain place and time to give oral or written information under oath. Suppose you need someone’s testimony at deposition, or information you asked of your spouse through interrogatories or request for production—and that person is not willing to cooperate. Your attorney may subpoena the person to appear at a deposition or at court. You may subpoena anyone with information that is useful to your case.

Our attorneys use the legal methods of discovery in Florida divorce to protect your rights. These tools allow us to discover as much information as possible, to determine how strong the other party’s case is, how strong your case is, and whether or not it is appropriate to settle the case prior to going to trial.

Each means of requesting and providing information is served with a window of time in which the other party must prepare and submit answers or appear as requested.

Refusal to Comply with Discovery in Florida Divorce

In addition to discovering what evidence your spouse may have against you, discovery is used to make sure the other side complies with and honors the rules of the court. If the information requested is relevant, a party must produce it promptly and thoroughly.

What if the opposing spouse objects to, or fails to comply with, a discovery request?

Nothing is more frustrating for a spouse fighting an uphill divorce battle than trying to get critical information from a non-compliant spouse. Non-compliance is also a violation of Florida statutes.

To take control of the situation, our attorneys are able to seek sanctions against the other side in the event they

  • refuse to answer an interrogatory question
  • do not allow inspection of any document requested to be produced
  • fail to answer a question at a deposition
  • are evasive, dishonest or incomplete in any answer or response

In a few instances, a party may be justified in refusing to submit to a request for discovery in Florida divorce. One example is if the information is privileged, such as letters or emails from the other spouse’s attorney. Other cases may be if the evidence requested would cause the party undue oppression or burden.

Protecting Your Rights in Divorce

It is true that discovery may add time and expense to the divorce process. Yet it is reckless to engage in a contested divorce case – where child custody, alimony and significant marital assets are at stake – without it. When done properly, discovery can expose hidden assets, reveal hidden truths and other surprises.

The family law attorneys at Kramer Law in Orlando use various tools to get to the bottom of the financial situation, including discovery, investigation and forensic accounting. We are always listening, so we can protect your rights, build an effective case on your behalf and advocate effectively for your interests.

Contact our offices today to schedule a confidential consultation with one or our family law attorneys, or call us at 855-Kramer-Now (855-572-6376).

Altamonte Springs Office
999 Douglas Avenue
Suite 3333
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
407.834.4847
Downtown Orlando Office
37 N. Orange Avenue
Suite 500b
Orlando, FL 32801
407.339.0269
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