What is Discovery?

When you go to trial, you have to be able to prove your claims. This can sometimes be difficult, because there are rules that the courts have to follow when considering evidence. It is important that you have as much evidence as possible to confirm your testimony. 

Luckily, the rules of discovery allow parties in a case to request evidence from one another.  By exchanging discovery, you can find important documents that can help prove your case.

Discovery in Divorce and Separation Cases

If you don’t know what kind of documents to ask for to help your family law case, Oregon law has given you a head start. In divorce or legal separation cases the parties involved are required to disclose financial information in order to resolve property and support issues.

Each party in a legal separation or divorce case will always be required to provide the following documents:

  • All Federal and state income tax returns filed by either party for the last three years.
  • If income tax returns have not been filed, then all W-2 statements, year-end payroll statements, interest and dividend statements, and all other records of income earned or received by either party during the last year
  • All records showing any income earned or received in the last year
  • All financial statements, net worth statements, and credit card and applications for loans from the last two years
  • Deeds, real estate contracts, appraisals, county tax assessments, and most recent statements assessing the value of real property
  • All documents showing debts. This includes the most recent statement of any loan or credit statements
  • Title or registrations of all cars, motorcycles, boats, or other personal property registered in either party’s name, or in which either party has any interest
  • Documents showing the current value of any  stocks, bonds, secured notes, mutual funds, or other investments
  • The most recent statement describing any retirement plan, IRA pension plan, profit-sharing plan, stock option plan, or deferred compensation plan  
  • All financial institution or brokerage account records on any account in which either party has had any interest in the past year, whether or not the account is currently open or closed. (ORS 107.089).

Additional Discovery

People often want more information than what is listed above. When you need more evidence, you can use the rules of discovery. ORCP 36. 

When asking for evidence in your family law case, you have several options. Below are just a few ways to get the evidence that you need.

  • Requests for Production: Parties may request documents, emails, photos, journals, and similar items as long as it could lead to relevant evidence. ORCP 43. 
  • Depositions: The parties and their lawyers meet in-person and each lawyer may ask the deposed party anything to gather evidence and clarify facts. ORCP 39.
  • Requests for Admissions: These are used to get a party in the case to admit some wrongdoing or to test the accuracy of a particular fact. ORCP 45.
  • Subpoena: A subpoena is an order for someone to participate in the discovery process. This order could require a witness to appear and testify, or require someone to provide books, papers, documents, or things for inspection and copying. A subpoena can be sent to a party or someone who is not involved in the case, like a friend, family member,or employer. ORCP 55.

Participation in the discovery process is mandatory. This means that parties must hand over information and evidence so that all parties can know what they are facing at trial. If an opposing party fails to provide discovery as requested, the other party can ask for an order to compel discovery. 

However, this does not mean that you have to hand over every piece of evidence that is requested. For instance, your opposing party cannot force you to break a privilege that you hold with a lawyer, therapist, doctor, or victim rights advocate. ORS 40.225, 230, 235, 264. You can also object if you think that they are asking for information that is irrelevant to the case when the request is likely intended to embarass, annoy, or harass you. ORCP 36(C). 

Need Help?

Do you have questions about issues of custody or parenting time? The Commons Law Center can help! Give us a call at 503-850-0811 to set up a meeting with an attorney.

The Commons Law Center Blog is for information purposes only. It is not legal advice.

posted June 12, 2020

Read more: 

Page [tcb_pagination_current_page] of [tcb_pagination_total_pages]