Discovery is a way for you and the other side to exchange information in civil cases and in Massachusetts family law cases. Typically this process occurs after a complaint and answer have been filed and one party asks another party to produce documents or respond in another way to a request for information. In some cases, however, for example in certain family law cases, the parties are required to exchange financial information within a certain amount of time after the complaint is filed even if one party does not request it from the other party.
Discovery will help you prepare your witnesses and determine which documents you want to submit to the court if your case goes to trial. All aspects of discovery are governed by rules and law. You need to know the rules that apply to your case.
There are several types of discovery. Some examples are:
• Interrogatories: Interrogatories are written questions to be answered in writing and signed under oath that one side sends to the other.
• Requests for Production of Documents: Each side can ask the other side to provide copies of documents relevant to the case.
• Depositions: A deposition is an opportunity to question the other party or a witness in the case. Depositions are typically recorded by a court reporter and a transcript may be prepared. Usually the party scheduling the deposition pays the costs involved.
• Requests for Admissions: Each side can ask the other side to admit or deny statements related to the case.
• Independent Medical Examinations: In some cases, the other side can request that a physician or therapist hired by them be allowed to examine the injured party.
• Mandatory Self-Disclosure: In certain family law cases, the parties are required to exchange specific financial information with the other side after the complaint is filed, even if the other side does not request the information. You need to follow the specific rules that apply to your case.
Except when your case requires self-disclosure, you are not required to conduct discovery. However, if the other side sends you discovery requests, you must respond as required by the applicable rules. The rules include strict time limits. If you fail to comply, you could be penalized by the court. You may even risk losing your case. Know the rules that apply to your case and follow them.
• Discovery is an important part of litigation. There are strict rules that govern this process.
• Failure of the defendant to provide discovery when required to do so by the rules or order of the court could result in a default judgment. A default judgment is when the trial judge enters judgment in favor of the plaintiff without hearing from the defendant. It is a final decision resolving the dispute.
• Failure of the plaintiff to provide discovery when required to do so could result in dismissal of the plaintiff’s case. A dismissal is also a final determination by the court of the rights of the parties.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or paternity case, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.