Parties to litigation are permitted to discover relevant facts and information through several different tools. These tools allow the parties to gather information that may be necessary to prove their case in a trial or to assist in reaching a settlement. Discovery is intended to minimize surprises at trial and to promote the possibilities of settlement.
Parties to a California divorce have a fiduciary duty to voluntarily share all known material facts and information regarding characterization and valuation of all community and separate assets and debts with the other party.
Discovery may also be conducted formerly pursuant to the California Code of Civil Procedure. The Code has very specific provisions which must be followed in order to obtain the requested information and documents. These infographics illustrate a number of different tools that are available in formal discovery. If the responding party fails to comply or partially complies with the request there are specific rules that must be followed to force compliance and request attorneys fees and/or sanctions from the non-complying party.
Digital Evidence Land: Discovery in family law often includes an analysis of electronically stored information (ESI); information (data) that is stored electronically, rather than in a physical form, and which includes: 1) information captured, created, communicated, manipulated or stored on hardware such as computers, voicemail systems, digital cameras, GPS systems, smartphones (e.g. text messages, emails, instant messaging, social media posts, etc.) and other smart electronic devices and information stored within software (e.g. word processing and accounting software) and, 2) the metadata (data that describes other data) associated with the underlying electronically stored information. In fact, paper documents are most commonly only visual representations of the ESI that have been captured and printed.
Metadata is data about data and is part of the ESI if the ESI is in its original (native) form. It may be important in the analysis of the ESI. A print or copy of ESI will not include the metadata.
The following infographic illustrates actions that may need to be analyzed and addressed in family law matters.