If division of property is a key issue, substantial work may be necessary to protect the rights of a party. Business evaluation, appraisals of various kinds, volumes of paperwork all may need to be reviewed and evaluated.
“Discovery” is the formal information gathering process in courts and it is very time consuming and expensive. We tell every client, when discovery happens, that dozens of hours of work will be required and that the client must usually be very involved in the process. Some clients may prefer that if hundreds of hours of work are needed, that the attorneys do the work, but many clients would rather save the tens of thousands of dollars required for these hundreds of hours of work. Clients who do some of this work themselves still will incur significant charges, but may save even more. Imagine that 100 hours of work is needed. The decision to do over half of this work and enable your attorney to charge for 30 hours instead of 100 may save you, as the client, more than $20,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.
There are five primary kinds of discovery and these explanations are only to give you a working knowledge of the basic terms. Here are the primary discovery tools:
Interrogatories. These are simply questions, and they must be answered or objections raised. One simple example, Who has been the primary caretaker for the children and what is the factual basis for your answer?
Requests for Production. Most commonly these request documents, but can be a request for pictures, hard drives, flash drives, floppies (historically?), tapes; and so forth. Often years of this documentation will be requested. As a general rule you don’t have to provide discovery that you don’t have or don’t have control over. Example, tax forms for the past 3 years.
Requests for admissions. This is a discovery tool based on making the respondent either admit to a stated fact or deny it, and if they are not answered timely, they are admitted. An example is “Admit or deny that you hit your husband with a frying pan the day before Christmas, 2016”. There may be a follow up to cover this area. To continue our example, “Admit or deny that you have ever hit your husband”. Further continuing, “Admit or deny that you hit, pushed, or shoved your spouse sometime in 2016.” Often attorneys will bracket or surround a point in trying to get an admission.
Requests for disclosure. These are similar to interrogatories and requests for production, but by statute, they are not subject to objections. These MUST be answered.
Depositions. Depositions are similar to testimony in court, but usually occur in an attorneys’ conference room or office. A court reporter is present and swears the deponent under oath, and often the procedure is videotaped or recorded. Sometimes these depositions last for many hours or even days.
If you think about the processes described, you should be able to tell why this process is expensive. “Discovery” does not happen in every case, but when it does, be prepared for substantial costs.
Agreed Divorce & related, $1,200
Agreed Divorce & related, $1,200 Uncontested Family Law matters