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 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. The 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 obtain attorneys fees and/or sanctions from the non-complying party.
Formal and Fiduciary Discovery
Electronically Stored Information (ESI)
Discovery in family law may encompass an analysis of electronically stored information (ESI) which includes data that has been created and/or stored digitally on devices like iPads, cell-phones, computers, flashdrives, servers, GPS devices, cloud storage, etc. ESI includes such things as texts, emails, voicemails, metadata (data about data), etc. Paper documents are actually secondary visual representations made at a point in time when data was collected and/or stored electronically. E-stored data on devices has been referred to as Digital Evidence Land.
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.
Actions Re: Own Client
Actions Re: Opposing Party