The Tools of Discovery in Divorce and Child Custody Litigation
By Amar S. Weisman, Esquire
What Is Discovery?
Discovery is how lawyers obtain evidence from the other side AND/OR third-parties. The discovery process in Baltimore County requires professional rules-driven management and precise documents and evidentiary disclosure.
What are the different kinds of discovery available to people in divorce and child custody litigation ?
- Depositions Duces Tecum
- Document Requests
- Requests for Admission of Fact
- Requests for Inspection of Land.
- Financial Statements.
Who Do You Need Information From?
The answer will depend on which kind of family law matter you have, i.e. divorce, legal custody, physical custody, marital property, child support or some combination thereof? In addition to sending Interrogatories and Requests for the Production of Documents,your attorney should consider obtaining documents and Certificates of Authenticity from the custodian of records from banks, credit card issuers, childcare providers, employers, telephone companies, schools, mental health providers, utilities, airlines, hotels, and government agencies like the Internal Revenue Service, the Maryland Lottery Commission the Child Support Enforcement Administration.
The questions are:
- What kind of information do yu need?
- Is the evidence admissible?
- Can this type of evidence be introduced as a certified business record in accordance with the rules of evidence?
Discovery Methods Pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-401.
- Depositions upon oral examination or written questions
- Written interrogatories
- Production or inspection of documents or other tangible things or permission to enter upon land or other property
- Mental or physical examinations
- Requests for admission of facts and genuineness of documents.
The party receiving the discovery request must provide whatever is requested provided it is (1) not privileged and (2) relevant to the issues of the case. Failure to provide discovery can lead to sanctions
- Interrogatories are questions that you ask in writing to the opposing party.
- Each party gets to ask 30 questions. More than 30 requires court approval.
- Here are three examples of interrogatories that might be asked in a child custody case:
- Example #1: "Identify yourself and all individuals with whom you reside. For each individual other than yourself, state that individual's age, relationship to you, and marital status. State your own birth date and social security number, employment number and driver's license number"
- Example #2: "List all child support payments you have made during the past twelve months."
- Example #3: "State whether you and the other parent have any major disagreements concerning the minor child(ren)’s education, religious upbringing, discipline, health care needs, and/or extracurricular activities, and, if so, detail the nature of each disagreement and each party's positions as you perceive it."
Depositions of the Opposing Party.
Divorce and Towson Child Custody lawyers have the right to question opposing parties during depositions-live, in-person, and under Oath. Depositions customarily occur at the questioning attorney’s office, in the presence of both family lawyers, the parties, and a licensed Maryland Court Reporter, whose job is to transcribe everything and deliver transcripts to the attorneys at a later date. Depending on how helpful the transcript is, either domestic relations attorney may wish to introduce portions of the transcript into evidence (subject to the Maryland Rules of Evidence).
Requests For Production, Inspection, and Copying of Documents.
- Your spouse can be required to produce documents for your divorce lawyer.
- Documents and Electronically Stored Information are often produced in digital form.
- If you need evidence of income, Mr. Weisman can compel the production of tax returns, W-2 Earnings Statements, 1099 Forms, Pay Stubs, and proof of payment.
- If you need documents about real property, Mr. Weisman can compel the production of contracts to purchase real property, deeds, deeds of trust, assignment of rents, and proof of rental income.
- If your spouse's mental health is an issue, medical records and psychiatric records can be requested and, in many cases, produced, dependent on the specific privileges issues your case involves.
- If social media is important, a Request for Documents can require your spouse (or you) to produce a complete Facebook Archive, Instagram Archive, and such.
- The Maryland Rules empower your Maryland family law lawyer to request documents from opposing parties. That makes sense because opposing parties often have crucial papers, videotapes, photographs and electronic data that you need to introduce as evidence in Circuit Court. Each Maryland divorce and child custody case is unique-sometimes the primary documents you need may be more “business” oriented, for example federal and Maryland tax returns, employment/business records, and copies of telephone and utility bills. In other cases, the documents will be more “personal,”i.e. e-mail correspondence, receipts for personal expenditures, passports, etc. Opposing parties produce as documents those exhibits they wish to introduce in court.
Mental and Physical Examinations.
The Maryland Rules of discovery permit obtaining a physical or mental health evaluation of the opposing party, in certain domestic relations situations. A mental or physical evaluation may be appropriate to determine fitness for having custody or visitation of a minor child, ability to work when a parent claims s/he cannot pay (or needs more) alimony or child support for medical reasons, and a variety of other circumstances.
Call 410-321-4994 To Meet With Towson Child Custody & Family Law Lawyer Amar S. Weisman.
Please Call (410) 321-4994 during business hours to schedule a free consultation for the purpose of deciding whether you want to retain Amar S. Weisman. The firm does not accept pro bono clients at this time. To retain legal services and advice, you must pay a retainer, See Policy on Fees/Costs. The law firm is located in the heart of Towson near The Circuit Court For Baltimore County, Towson Town Center, Goucher College and Towson University, at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road (MD-146), Second Floor Towson, MD 21204. We represent clients throughout the Baltimore area including Aberdeen, Abingdon, Baldwin, Bel Air, Bowleys Quarters, Brooklandville, Carney, Catonsville, Cockeysville, Edgewood, Essex, Garrison, Glen Arm, Greenspring Valley, Homeland, Hunt Valley, Hydes, the Joppa Road Corridor, Kingsville, Long Green, Lutherville, Middle River, Nottingham, Owings Mills, Parkville, Pikesville, Perry Hall, Reisterstown, Riderwood, Rodgers Forge, Rosedale, Ruxton, Sparks, Sparrows Point, Stoneleigh, Timonium, Towson, West Towson, White Hall, White Marsh, and the York Road corridor. We have also represented a number of out-of-state clients. The law firm does not guarantee the results in any matter.
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