What is “discovery” in a Virginia divorce?
“Discovery” is the fancy word attorneys use to describe the process that we use to get all the information about the guy on the other side. In a lot of cases, husband and wife don’t necessarily know everything there is to know about each other, so we’re left wondering whether there are any hidden assets or previously undisclosed liabilities that we should worry about.
Almost everything relevant to your case is “discoverable.” We can ask about all sorts of things, from how much he makes, to the sources of that income, and even about retirement accounts, benefits, life and health insurance. We can go far beyond information about his employment, though. We can ask about credit cards, monthly expenses (like bills), and the mortgage. We can get copies of tax returns and, if he owns a business, we can get information regarding the business as well so that it can be appropriately valued (and divided) later on. We can ask for information relating to the kids and his fault, if you’ve alleged that he committed one of the fault-based grounds for divorce.
For example, if we suspect that he is having an affair, we can ask for details relating to that affair. We can even, in some cases, get information directly from his girlfriend.
There are many different ways we can get information in discovery. This week and into next week, we’ll talk about some of the most common tools we use to get the information we need from husbands. On Wednesday, October 30th, look for my article on Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents. On Friday, November 1st, we’ll talk about Requests for Admissions. Next week, on Monday, November 4th, we’ll talk about Depositions, and then the following Wednesday, November 6th we’ll talk about Motions to Compel. We’ll even talk about how to make the discovery process easier on Friday, November 8th.
Of course, discovery is a two way street, so you need to keep in mind that anything we can ask him about, he can turn around and ask you for information about. In Virginia, there are certain limitations to what kind and how many questions you can ask, but you will have to answer, too. It’s a lot like doing your taxes—it’s not a whole lot of fun, but this is an incredibly important part of the process.
If you’re in the discovery phase of your Virginia divorce, you probably have a ton of questions. Over the next two weeks, I’ll give you a general overview into many of the different parts of the process, which should help answer a lot of the questions that are keeping you awake at night. Keep on reading to find out more!