Discovery in Family Law Cases
The discovery process is an important stage of the litigation process. Discovery is where the parties investigate a case to find facts that they may use to support their claims. During discovery, the parties are expected to respond to the other party’s requests in good faith to review and investigate certain documents, items, and facts.
In California family law cases, discovery may be conducted informally under the Family Law Code or formally under the Code of Civil Procedure. Informal discovery allows the parties to facilitate a good-faith exchange of information to minimize the court involvement and avoid lengthy litigation. In contrast, formal discovery is conducted according to provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure. Formal discovery gives the parties to get the court involved to legally compel an uncooperative party to respond to discovery requests.
Formal discovery is limited to the following methods:
- Requests for inspection of records
- Requests for production of documents
- Requests for admissions
What Is a Post-Judgment Modification?
A post-judgment modification refers to a request to change the terms of a court order issued when the court entered its final judgment regarding the dissolution of the parties’ marriage. Orders regarding spousal support, property division, child custody, and child support may be subject to future modification after the parties’ divorce goes into effect.
However, California law requires the party requesting a modification to demonstrate that a material change in circumstances justifies the court in granting a modification. For example, consider a spousal support order which automatically reduced in the amount after eighteen months based on the assumption that receiving spouse would secure a job at that time. If the receiving spouse could not find a job after eighteen months, they can undo the automatic reduction by showing that a material change in circumstances prevented them from securing gainful employment despite his or her good-faith attempts otherwise.
What Discovery Applies to Post-Judgment Modifications?
Under California Family Code § 218, “when a request for order or other motion is filed and served after entry of judgment, discovery shall automatically reopen as to the issues raised in the post-judgment pleadings currently before the court.” As a result, a parties request for an order for a post-judgment modification automatically reopens discovery as to the issues delineated in modification request.
A request to modify a support order based on a material change of circumstances regarding the parties’ respective financial conditions may use an alternative, more cost-effective method of discovering important facts about the party’s financial condition under Family Code § 3664.
Under Family Code § 3664, a party may request a complete income and expense declaration (Form FL-150) from the other party as a means of discovering basic facts regarding their financial state. If the other party fails to respond to the request after 35 days from the date the request was served, the requesting party may request a complete income and expense declaration from the party’s employer.
Moshtael Family Law - Advocating for Your Rights
The legal team at Moshtael Family Law is dedicated to representing you and your family’s interest throughout your divorce proceedings and during requests for a post-judgment modification of the court’s orders. We are committed to making sure that the parties and the court acknowledge how a material change in circumstances disrupts the purpose behind an order such the court should modify its terms to reflect the new reality.
Call us at (714) 909-2561 or contact us online for a consultation exploring the merits of your case today.