Discovery is used in all different types of law, including Domestic Relations. In all Divorce or Parental Responsibility cases, you are asked to provide a Financial Affidavit and financial disclosures to the other party. Discovery goes beyond the disclosures that you are expected to provide with your Financial Affidavit. Unlike your Financial Affidavit, Discovery is optional and varies from case to case. Discovery is defined as, “the methods used by parties to a civil or criminal action to obtain information held by the other party that is relevant to the action.” In most contested, high asset divorce cases, one party will issue Discovery on the other party. This can be in the form of Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents. There are two types of requests, Pattern and Non-Pattern. Pattern Interrogatories or Requests for Production of Documents are a set of questions or requests that are specifically outlined in the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. They are consistent and the same in every case. Non-Pattern Interrogatories or Requests for Productions of Documents are created by the requesting party. The requesting party is only allowed a maximum of ten (10) Non-Pattern Interrogatories and/or Requests for Production of Documents. Pursuant to C.R.C.P. 34 you have thirty (30) days to respond to discovery requests.
The legal definition for Interrogatory is, “a written question directed by one party to another regarding information that is within the scope of discovery.” When you are issued Pattern and Non-Pattern Interrogatories, you will notice that they are simply a series of questions that require an answer. They will usually request very specific information about your past employment history or certain assets you may possess or have possessed during the length of the marriage. Your answers must be detailed and complete. Interrogatories may also be used in parental responsibility cases and will ask questions pertaining to parenting time and decision making.
Requests for Production of Documents are a series of requests from the asking party, for you to produce a number of documents that pertain to the marital assets and/or your own individual assets. These requests are usually extremely cumbersome as they can request items such as three (3) years of bank statements, which are usually not easily accessible via the internet. However, as demanding as they may be, you must disclose all documents that are requested. If a party does not comply with Discovery requests, the asking party can seek the Court’s intervention and request payment of attorney’s fees for the other party’s noncompliance.
As previously stated Discovery is optional and may not be necessary in every case. However, in the event you are issued Discovery requests, be sure to answer each question, with as much detail as possible, and provide every document requested. This may also be a time to seek legal counsel that can help with this process and advise you along the way.