Oklahoma Divorce Discovery Process
Divorces are a type of civil lawsuit; therefore, the general guidance/rules of civil procedure apply to divorce cases in Oklahoma. This is important to keep in mind, as having the right legal team in your divorce can assist you in capitalizing on the rules of civil procedure. One of the most important tools of civil procedure in a divorce case is discovery. The discovery process is a tool, in which both parties are able to request information from the other party and they are required to answer all the questioned ask under oath.
The divorce discovery process is an investigative period where both parties involved gather information from the other party. At this stage, each party aims to gather as much information that is valuable to their case. The discovery process is a precursor to settlement or trial proceedings.
Both parties involved in the divorce case are bound by Oklahoma divorce law which outlines the scope of information that can be gathered and requested. Oklahoma discovery code provides the following specific provisions at Oklahoma Statutes Title 12 § 3226 (B)(1)(a), states:
“Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents, electronically stored information or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not a ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”
The Types of Oklahoma Discovery
There are many tools that fall under the discovery process in Oklahoma. Although the best use of these discovery tools will vary based on the issues of your specific divorce case, the tools themselves remain the same across all civil cases, including divorce. Parties involved in a divorce process can initiate different methods of discovery. Below are the primary methods of discovery in Oklahoma divorce cases:
– Deposition upon written questions
– Deposition upon oral examination
– Request for production
– Request for Admission
The rest of this article is a brief synopsis of the discovery tools detailed above. We hope this information will give you an opportunity to begin thinking about how you can use these tools in your divorce case in Oklahoma.
A deposition is a question and answer meeting, similar to a witness testifying in court. A court reporter is present that will type every single word, including both the questions and answers in the case. Additionally, the witness/party being deposed is sworn to tell the truth. Failure to testify truthfully in a deposition may subject the witness to the penalty of perjury.
In the proper setting a divorce deposition can assist you and your lawyer in exposing information the other party may not want out in the open, as well as providing an opportunity to practice asking the party questions under oath prior to trial in your divorce case. The following forms of discovery allow the other party 30 days and the advice of counsel in responding to every question or request; however, in a deposition the person under oath must think on his or her feet and answer questions with limited or no assistance of counsel.
It is important to retain an experienced divorce attorney will experience both in trial and depositions, if you are facing a deposition in your divorce case. You can assist yourself by reviewing documents and records in your divorce, as well as think about any bad information in your personal life or the divorce process and think about how you want to address questions or topics of conversation that you are not excited about discussing. In many instances, depositions will help to settle a divorce case.
Request for Production
This request is aimed at compelling the other party to produce certain documents in their possession or that they can easily obtain. The response to this request is expected to be provided within a 30-day window. However, the respondent may be granted an extension period no longer than 45 days from the date of receiving the discovery requests.
Each party involved in the divorce case is limited to 30 requests for production, unless granted additional requests by the court, which is rarely granted. To submit a request to inspect an item of evidence, the initiating party has to meet the requirement prescribed by Oklahoma Statute Title 12 § 3233 (B)(3). These requirements include:
– That the request will contain specific information about the item demanded for inspection.
– That the request will specify a reasonable time, place, and how the document is to be inspected
– That the request states clearly the form or forms that electronically stored information may be produced.
These are questions that have been prepared by one party and presented to the other party that the responding party is required to answer under oath. Interrogations are expected to be replied to in 30 days or the other party may seek a request to compel responses by seeking court assistance. During the divorce discovery process, each party is limited to 30 interrogations unless certain circumstances demand an excess of the prescribed limit, after permission by the court. To request additional interrogatories, the initiating party must follow a statutory procedure as contained in Oklahoma Statute Title 12 § 3233 (A).
“No further interrogatories will be served unless authorized by the court. If counsel for a party believes that more than thirty interrogatories are necessary, he shall consult with opposing counsel promptly and attempt to reach a written stipulation as to a reasonable number of additional interrogatories. Counsels are expected to comply with this requirement in good faith. In the event a written stipulation cannot be agreed upon, the party seeking to submit such additional interrogatories shall file a motion with the court (1) showing that counsel has conferred in good faith but sincere attempts to resolve the issue have been unavailing, (2) showing reasons establishing good cause for their use, and (3) setting forth the proposed additional interrogatories.”
Request for Admission
These are true or false statements, similar to interrogatories, that are prepared by one party for the other party. These questions are required to be answered within 30 days of the date the request is made to the other party. There is limit of 30 Requests for Admission for each party in the divorce case. parties who wish to exceed this limit must follow the set of rules contained in Oklahoma Statutes Title 12 § 3236 (A), which states:
“The matter is admitted unless, within thirty (30) days after service of the request, or within such shorter or longer time as the court may allow, the party to whom the request is directed serves upon the party requesting the admission a written answer or objection addressed to the matter, signed by the party or by his attorney, but unless the court shortens the time, a defendant shall not be required to serve answers or objections before the expiration of forty-five (45) days after service of the summons and petition upon him.”
To answer a Request for Admission, the receiving party can either admit, deny, or provide no answer due to the invalidity of the objection. When a party fails to answer a request for admission, the other party may seek to have the request “deemed admitted”, meaning the party admits the requested admission by failing to response.
Conclusion on Divorce Discovery
Many procedural and litigation tools exist in the Oklahoma divorce process. The discovery tools explained above are some of the most powerful tools to seek information and potential settlement avenues in your divorce case. With an experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney or divorce litigation team, you will be able to uncover much information about the pother party in your divorce case and either prepare for trial with knowledge of the facts and issues in your case or seek settlement that is in your interests.
Cannon & Associates – Your Fierce Advocate in Oklahoma Divorce
The tools explained above can help you seek a settlement in your divorce case that is in your interest or help you prepare for battle in a divorce trial. Few events in your life deal with more important issues than the outcome of your children, your property, and your retirement, which are all at issue in your divorce case. Hiring a Fierce Advocate to help you through the legal process and provide you with the best representation possible, including the divorce discovery process described above gives you the best chance at achieving the best possible outcome in your divorce case. Contact Cannon & Associates today to discover how we can protect your rights and help prepare you for your divorce case.