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How much do you know about the California discovery process?

If you answered, "Next to nothing," when you read the question in the post title, you'll definitely want to keep reading. As you prepare for divorce, there are things you should know about California law that may greatly affect your settlement. For one, this is one of only nine states in the nation that continue to operate under community property division laws in divorce. That means that the whole "what's mine is yours" thing is especially true regarding marital property, which is basically anything and everything you acquired during marriage.  

The discovery process is a means of gathering information. In short, this process allows you to gather information about the types of arguments your spouse plans to raise in court. Keep in mind that your spouse is going to use the same process to get you to reveal your game plan, as well. There are several integral components to the discovery process that you'll want to learn about ahead of time. Divorce isn't easy, and if you walk into court without knowing what to expect or what your rights are and how to protect them, you may be in for a highly stressful experience.  

Before heading to court, learn more about these things 

The laws in California regarding discovery in divorce may vary from another state's laws. However, the following list shows the most basic parts of the process that you will likely be able to use to your advantage to build a strong case: 

  • Full disclosure is a key factor in most discovery processes. You may send a request for information to your spouse that he or she must respond to within a certain time frame. 
  • Your request for information may include questions regarding bank account information, your spouse's income or other personal financial details that you believe will be pertinent to your case. 
  • An interrogatory document is one you would send to your spouse when seeking answers to specific questions regarding information you have tried to obtain by other means. Again, your spouse would have a certain amount of time in which to respond. 
  • A deposition may also be part of your discovery process. It is essentially a sworn testimony by the opposing side that may include statements from witnesses.  

In a community property state, the court will typically split the value of all your marital property 50/50 in your divorce. If you have a signed prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, it may keep certain assets from being subject to division if you already established said assets as separately owned. The same goes for debt, such as if your spouse entered marriage with a whopping college loan in tow and you took steps to protect yourself from liability in case of divorce. 

The bottom line 

The discovery process can be stressful but also quite helpful. Many California residents reach out for experienced legal support rather than try to navigate the discovery process or any other aspect of divorce proceedings on their own.

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