Discovery & Depositions

  • Introduction
  • Custody
  • Child support
  • First legal steps
  • Temporary motions
  • Discovery and depositions
  • Settlement
  • Motions and orders
  • Pre-trial conference
  • The trial
  • Modification
  • Guardian ad litem
  • Using Experts
  • Private investigators
  • Parting words
  • About the author

    Discovery & Depositions (Part 1)


    What is “Discovery”?


    Discovery is the process of gathering information in preparation for trial. It begins after the petitions have been exchanged. Discovery is the means by which you build and strengthen your case; it occurs at various points and at various rates from the beginning to the end of a divorce. Several factors determine the extent and length of discovery:

    1. Individual preferences: naturally, some people are more eager to “dig up dirt” than others. Also, the lives of some people are significantly more full of past incidents and misdeeds–or, alternatively, of selfless parental devotion.
    2. Complexity of the case: discovery is naturally more thorough and lengthy when there is a custody battle, marital misconduct, bad parenting allegations, or accusations of substance abuse.
    3. The attorneys: some attorneys favor meticulous and expensive litigation and feel unprepared unless they know absolutely all even arguably important facts in a case. Other lawyers prefer to look for ways to settle a case early in the process without the time and expense of lengthy discovery. And, of course, there are all points in between.


    Insider Tip

    If you want primary custody, your attorney’s job is essentially to persuade a judge that you are better than your ex-wife. Aside from some minimal threshold of fitness, you do not have to convince the judge you are an exceptional parent. You must simply appear better than the alternative. In some cases–not yours, I hope–the judge more or less holds his nose and picks the parent he finds less disgusting. However, you can usually improve your relative position by playing up your strengths as a parent and by diminishing your opponent’s. Naturally, you should proceed along both paths simultaneously.

    Therefore, during discovery our clients focus on gathering positive information about themselves for us to present to the court. Obviously this is important. But equally important is anticipating your opponent’s case. Remember, winning a favorable custody or financial arrangement simply means beating your wife. To do this you have to be prepared to deal with her facts and her allegations.


    This online custody guide is adapted with permission from “Civil War: A Dad’s Guide to Custody” (266 pages, softcover) – available in our online store.

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