If a case is contested, it will involve some form of discovery. “Discovery” is a term that covers several different avenues for collecting information to use in the case. In many cases, I like to do informal discovery. Basically, this means that the other attorney and I will simply exchange requested information without a formal request. This takes less time and saves on attorney’s fees.
Sometimes formal written discovery is needed. Written discovery can include a Request for Disclosure, Interrogatories, Requests for Production, and Requests for Admission.
A Request for Disclosure is a specific set of questions laid out in Rule 194 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Many of the questions in a Request for Disclosure are not applicable in the family setting, and I rarely do a Request for Disclosure. The relevant questions include laying our your legal theories and providing a list of persons with knowledge of relevant facts.
Interrogatories are specific written questions to the other side. You are generally limited to 25 interrogatories, so use them wisely. Most attorneys have standard interrogatories that they send out, depending on the issues in the case. I like to tailor the interrogatories to each specific case.
Requests for Production are written requests for the other side to produce certain documents. For example, in a child support case, you would want to request pay stubs and tax returns. In a property dispute in a divorce case, you would want to request a wide variety of financial records. There is no limit to the number of requests for production you can serve on the other side.
Requests for Admission are questions asking the other side to admit or deny certain facts. It is rare that the other side will just admit to a damaging fact. I do not use these often in family cases.
In addition to written discovery, the parties can take depositions or subpoena records from third parties to gain additional information.