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What Is Discovery?

Aug 17, 2015 | Written by: William J. Rudnik, Esq. |

Discovery is part of the litigation, or court process, in divorce cases as well as all types of litigation. Discovery is exchanging all relevant information about any issues in the case. This can be in regard to custody and parenting time issues, child support issues, spousal support issues, equitable distribution issues, or any other issues that may come up in a divorce action.

Under the New Jersey Court Rules there are specific methods for requesting the information from the other party. A party can request documents from another party such as tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs, etc. This is typically done with what is known as a Notice to Produce, or a document request. A party can also ask for responses to written questions that are known as Interrogatories. Although not frequently used, a party can request the other party admit certain facts as a way to confirm their position or narrow the issues. This type of discovery device is known as a Request for Admissions. A party can also ask questions of the other party in person (usually the questions are asked by a party’s attorney unless they are self-represented). This is known as a Deposition. At a deposition a court reporter is present to take down all of the questions and answers and the information is then transferred into a transcript of the deposition. As part of the discovery process, a party can also obtain information from other sources such as banks, mortgage companies, employers, etc. The method for requesting this information is known as a Subpoena. A party can also take depositions of fact witnesses or the other parties’ expert witnesses by way of a different type of Subpoena.

In New Jersey there is a broad latitude in terms of the information that can be requested in discovery. The standard is that it must be reasonably calculated to lead to relevant evidence. The purpose is to have both parties provide all of the relevant information so that there is no such thing as a trial “by ambush,” where one party is lacking the important or relevant information.

William J. Rudnik, Esq. is certified by the NJ Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney. He is also qualified as a Mediator in the field of Family Law under the New Jersey Court rules, and he is trained in Collaborative Divorce. Contact Mr. Rudnik at 908-735-5161 or via email.