During the divorce process, the more information that you have about your spouse, the better you will be able to prepare your case. Some divorcing couples make the mistake of assuming that they have all of the information they need about their spouse. However, sometimes there are hidden assets, whether they were hidden intentionally or not. This is one reason why discovery in a Massachusetts divorce case is so important. It provides both spouses with a clear picture of the marital assets and liabilities, monetary or otherwise, and this information can be used to have fair discussions about alimony, child support, child custody, and property division. Read on for more information about the importance of discovery and the types of discovery in Massachusetts divorce cases:
Per Massachusetts law:
“Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” — Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Procedure Rule 26(b)(1).
Essentially, discovery is the process of gathering any information that is relevant to the case and can help you build your case.
Discovery shall include:
To learn more about the mandatory discovery in Divorce and Family Law cases, please check out our blog on the topic, which can be found here.
Discovery may include:
Learn more about Massachusetts discovery tools here.
In Massachusetts, discovery can begin as soon as the Defendant is served with the summons and compliant. Each type of discovery has set time frames for responses to the Requests. Generally, the Court will issue a Pre-Trial Order and Notice which shall schedule the case for Pre-Trial Conference and set a discovery deadline date. The discovery deadline date is generally on or before scheduled Pre-Trial Conference date so that the parties may have a substantial Pre-Trial Conference after the close of discovery.
After discovery is complete, the parties can have an informed settlement meeting and negotiate an agreement. Many times, after conducting thorough discovery, information will come to light which facilitate settlement.
Both spouses must comply with the discovery requests served upon him/her and provide the requested information to each other within the established timeframe. There are penalties for failing to respond to discovery and it will prolong the divorce process. Where a party fails to comply with a discovery request, the other party has the option of filing a motion to compel and in certain circumstances, the non-complying party may be responsible for the other party’s attorney’s fees and other types of the sanctions. Another common consequence of non-compliance with discovery requests is the possible continuance of the upcoming hearing court. It is not uncommon for the continued hearing date to be months out from the originally scheduled hearing date.
Discovery is an integral component of Massachusetts divorce cases. An experienced Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law Attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the discovery process in order to gather all of the information needed to build a compelling case.