What is Discovery in a Divorce Case?

What is Discovery in a Divorce Case - Maples Family Law


During your divorce case, your attorney will do something called discovery – but what is discovery, and how will it help your case?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is Discovery in a Divorce Case?

Discovery is the phase of divorce where your attorney and your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s attorney gather important information about your situation. It often includes finances, and sometimes it includes things that pertain to child custody and other divorce issues.

Related: 3 things you can do to make your divorce easier

During discovery in a divorce case, your lawyer will ask you for all your important documents, such as:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Joint bank statements
  • Joint credit card statements
  • Investment portfolios
  • Retirement account information

It’s a good idea to gather these documents as soon as you start divorce proceedings – and make plenty of copies, too, unless you’re storing them all digitally. That way, you have everything you need when your attorney requests it.

Sometimes the discovery process includes subpoenas of documents that you don’t have. Your attorney will file paperwork to formally request the information if it’s necessary for your case to move forward.

Discovery in a divorce case can also include talking to witnesses, taking statements and asking for written answers to questions that pertain to your case.


Sometimes it’s necessary to bring in a third party to testify about your case. When witnesses can change the outcome of your case, your lawyer can subpoena them – and require that they testify in court while they’re under oath.

Taking Statements

Your lawyer can take written or oral statements from you or anyone else connected to your case during discovery. The main purpose of this phase is to gather information that will help your case in court, whether it involves finances or proving irresponsible parenting on your spouse’s part.

Related: What is legal separation in California?

Written Answers to Questions

Your attorney can ask another party to submit written answers to questions pertaining to your case.

How Can You Help Your Lawyer During the Discovery Process?

Most people aren’t really aware when their attorney is conducting discovery in a divorce case, and that’s okay. However, you can help your lawyer by providing all the paperwork she needs, and by doing so in a timely manner. If your lawyer needs a joint bank statement, for example, it’s likely because she’s working on something like child support or spousal maintenance – or because she’s helping figure out how to divide your assets so that you get what’s fair from your divorce. The sooner you give your attorney the documents she needs, the sooner she can go through them and start solving the issues you’re facing.

Related: 3 tips to help you de-stress during divorce

You can also get a head start by gathering all the documents that may be important to your case as soon as you file (or as soon as you find out that your spouse has filed) for divorce. Keep everything in a central location, whether it’s all in one folder on your computer (which you should definitely back up) or in a folder on your dresser. In addition to financial documents, you may need things like:

  • Emails or text messages from your spouse, or your spouse’s family
  • Phone records
  • Birth certificates or paternity documents
  • Adoption paperwork
  • Court orders that could have bearing on your case

Your attorney will tell you what else she needs, so don’t stress too much – and if there’s something she needs that you don’t have, she’ll be able to ask your ex’s attorney for it or subpoena the information.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Divorce?

If you’re considering divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, we may be able to help you. Call us at (209) 546-6870 . We’ll be happy to answer your questions about child custody, child support, spousal maintenance and other divorce-related issues.