What Happens During “Discovery” in a Georgia Divorce?

When spouses approach divorce, they encounter all kinds of new, strange, and unfamiliar legal terms. One of these terms is “discovery.” Although you may already understand the standard definition of the word “discovery,” this term has a distinct meaning in the legal world. What exactly happens during “discovery?” What should you do during this process, and how can a divorce lawyer in Georgia help?

Divorce Discovery Defined

“Discovery” in a divorce case is a fact-finding process. It occurs in all civil cases, including injury lawsuits, wrongful termination cases, and so on. It is important to understand that, technically speaking, a divorce is also a type of “lawsuit.” 

During a formal discovery process, there are very specific rules that both spouses must follow. Essentially, these rules require each party to share as much information as possible with the other party. If you request a specific document during discovery, your spouse has a legal obligation to provide it.

As long as the information is relevant to your divorce, you must also provide any documents that your spouse requests. There are almost limitless possibilities as to what a spouse might request during discovery. However, the most common documents include:

  • Financial documents
  • Income documents
  • Medical records
  • Tax documents
  • Insurance documents
  • Property appraisals
  • Emails
  • Text messages

The most relevant data depends on what you’re trying to prove in your divorce. For amicable divorces, you might only need to establish the various assets in your marital estate. For more contentious divorces, you might need to prove marital misconduct. This might include wasting marital assets, substance abuse, child abuse, and so on. 

Based on this information, spouses can decide how to handle their divorce. For example, you might discover that your ex’s art collection is worth much more than you realized. This information allows you to pursue a more equitable property division. 

Do I Still Need to Go Through Discovery in a Mediated Divorce?

Generally speaking, discovery still occurs during a mediated divorce. However, the process is usually much less formal. Compared to a litigated divorce, spouses will not face the same consequences for failing to follow the rules. During mediation, discovery is usually a more collaborative process where mediators, lawyers, and spouses review various documents together. The goal is for everyone to feel confident about the information being exchanged

Discovery during mediation follows the “honor system.” If you do not trust your spouse to truthfully disclose important information during mediation, you might want to choose a litigated divorce instead. When facing stricter scrutiny in the courtroom, a spouse may find it much more challenging to conceal assets and other important information. Ultimately, this is a discussion you should have with your family law attorney in Georgia. 

Find an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Georgia

If you are ready to approach discovery with confidence, contact an experienced divorce lawyer in Georgia at your earliest convenience. Choose Lankford & Moore Law, book a consultation, and learn more about the discovery process. Remember, discovery is only one “phase” of your divorce proceedings, and there are many other steps to plan for. Reach out today to get started. 

I realized the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part of my time during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby — not even money, certainly not my soul.

Mahatma Gandhi

Lankford & Moore Law in Downtown Lawrenceville

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