Child Custody: What Discovery Can Do For You

When parents cannot agree on custody issues, it's a matter for the courts. However, the parties may still be able to work things out before the matter comes before a judge in some cases. Read on to learn how a pretrial practice like discovery can benefit your quest to obtain physical custody of a minor child.

What is Discovery?

If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement when discussing child custody matters, the case will be set for trial. However, before that happens, discovery begins. The practice of discovery happens in all sorts of cases, from criminal and personal injury to family law cases. Discovery involves discovering all kinds of facts about the case through sharing. When it comes to discovery actions, it's compulsory that each side bring forth the requested documents and information. Discovery can take a while to get through since each side needs to locate and assemble the requested information, but each type of discovery involves time limits. Discovery may consist of several actions and all of them are designed to bring to light case facts that may have been unknown previously. That means that discovery can change the case in major ways.

How Discovery Actions Affect a Child Custody Case

  1. Depositions are the only discovery action that requires the parents to personally participate. Other discovery actions demand information from the parties but not their presence. At a deposition, you and your spouse are questioned about parenting issues and your answers may be later used at the trial. Usually, only complex divorce cases will call for a deposition. The behavior of the parent while being questioned can provide insight for each side into what may occur at the trial. If a parent is quick to anger, for instance, it might affect their parenting abilities as well.
  2. Interrogatories, as the name suggests, are questions passed between the parties and their divorce lawyers. You and your lawyer will work together to provide answers. This can provide each side with a wealth of information about the cases. For example, it might come to light that the other side believes you drink too much to be a good parent.
  3. Production is a request for physical information relating to the divorce and custody case. For instance, the production request from the other side could contain eyewitness statements about your fitness as a parent.
  4. Admissions are statements of facts sent to each side. These statements can be denied or agreed upon. One sent to your spouse might ask them if they left the child waiting for hours outside the park until after dark on a certain day.

Once discovery is complete, you might find your spouse more willing to settle the divorce, depending on what is "discovered". Speak to a divorce lawyer to find out more.

For more information on family law, contact a professional near you.