Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life – don’t cause yourself additional stress by racking up unnecessary attorney’s fees. Discovery is a part of the divorce process where many litigants “waste” their money. In its most basic form, discovery is used for parties to gain information about each other and to accurately provide facts for the judge for later trial evidence. Discovery is one of the most important steps during the divorce process, but it is also one of the most time-consuming steps for clients and attorneys. Since discovery during a divorce is so important, countless hours will be spent by clients and attorneys. There are four common mistakes you can avoid that will help save you money from additional legal fees during the discovery process that are addressed in this blog.
The first mistake to be aware of is not answering a discovery question fully. This may sound trivial, but it is often a mistake that clients make. When an attorney receives their client’s discovery responses, the first thing they will look at is if all the questions have been fully answered. For example: if a question asks you to list the name, address, and phone number of your current employment, many clients will simply just respond with the business name. Usually, your attorney will be able to find the rest of the information from a simple search, but for every minute that they spend completing the answers for you, you will be charged. Another way that clients fail to fully answer a discovery question is by simply sending documents related to the question without actually answering it themselves and explaining how it ties to the questions or document requested. This causes the attorney to take additional time to search through your documents to answer the question for you. It is simply more practical and financially economical for you to fully answer every question to your best ability. This will allow the attorney’s revision process to be quicker and will end up saving you additional fees. If a question is impermissible, your attorney will know and object. However, while you may believe it is objectionable because you don’t want to answer it, and do not, all you are doing is spending unnecessary legal dollars.
The second mistake that clients often make is providing the wrong information or documents in lieu of finding the correct responsive material. For example: if a question asks you to provide your son’s soccer schedule for the year, sending back five schedules that never mention soccer will not be a sufficient response. You are causing the attorney to go through countless pages of unrelated material to ultimately find out that you never provided the information about soccer. This situation often occurs when clients send tax information for the incorrect years or only part of the tax return. If you are unable to respond to a question, don’t send a document or information that is irrelevant. The better response would be to explain why you are unable to retrieve the documents, or why you are unable to answer the question. This allows the attorney to instantly understand why you cannot respond to the question and they can determine the next appropriate step.
The third mistake that clients make is refusing to answer a question. Sometimes, clients believe that a question is too personal or irrelevant to their case. If you are concerned with a question being too invasive, simply make a note to the attorney, after your answer, that you believe the question is too personal or that you are uncomfortable answering it. The attorney will know if the question is irrelevant to your case or not and they will help you understand how the information is being used. Some questions are necessary for your case and refusing to respond will only delay the process and cause you to pay additional fees while the attorney attempts to collect the necessary answers.
The fourth and final mistake is not organizing your responses. Often with discovery during a divorce, you will be required to provide large documents; such as tax information or credit card statements. To save yourself some extra cash on legal fees, make sure to organize all your documents as well as you can. This will allow the attorney to quickly see if you are missing any information or documents. In other words, don’t just send your counsel a pile of unsorted papers that are incomplete and/or disorganized. The more organized your documents are, the faster it will be for the attorney to match up the questions with the correct responses and prepare them to be finalized. This may even speed up your divorce.
Discovery is not a fun process, but you can make it less stressful on yourself by knowing the more thorough job you do, the more legal fees you save, the better you are preparing your counsel to be your advocate and at the same time, probably speeding up the process. Stated differently, avoiding these mistakes will allow your attorney to efficiently finalize your discovery responses and will save you from unnecessary additional legal fees. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle divorce matters and discovery daily. Although going through a divorce is never easy, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. is here to help make the process as painless as possible. This blog was written by advocates at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle divorce cases of all types throughout the State. This blog is written for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or as a solicitation for representation. It is an advertisement.