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Need to Show Evidence in a Court Case? Perform Discovery

BY IN Child Support

Discovery

When you have a dispute, how do you really prove your case to the judge?  For example, your child tells you that the other parent is at work during their parenting time, so how do you prove that?  You believe that your spouse earns a lot more money and should be paying a lot more in support. How do you show the judge those increased earnings?  If both of you testify without introducing evidence, you end up with a ‘he said; she said’ situation, and you may not receive your requested relief.  In most family law cases, the Michigan Court Rules allow both parties to perform discovery.  Discovery is a tool that will allow you to obtain the evidence to prove your case.

What is Discovery?

Discovery is a procedure that allows for disclosure of information between Plaintiff and Defendant.  Michigan Court Rules allow for written questions, oral questioning, a request for documents or items from the other party, and a request for documents or items from third parties.

When Can you Perform Discovery?

In some counties, the court will enter a scheduling order which provides the time period when you may submit a discovery request. If you are not sure if such an order exists in your case, ask your attorney.  It is important to complete the discovery before the deadline. Once you receive a response, you may need to follow up with another request or a request to another entity, and you will need to do so prior to the court-ordered deadline.

What Happens if I don’t Perform Discovery?

You likely will be confronted with some surprises during the trial or maybe even after your settlement. You may not know which witnesses will testify and which evidence will be provided to the judge. Even if you receive this information shortly before trial, it will be too late to prepare a defense or solid response. 

Often our attorneys can handle bad evidence or testimony as long as they have time to prepare a response.  Receiving bad testimony or evidence at trial prevents an attorney from obtaining mitigating or contrary evidence or testimony.

Discovery is a very beneficial step in a contested divorce or custody case.  Not performing discovery is often a detrimental error in the case’s outcome should the case proceed to trial.

What are some advantages of performing discovery?

Discovery may lead to settlement.  When each party puts their demands in writing, it may provide an opportunity to settle.  On the other hand, it may show that the parties are so far apart that settlement negotiations are a waste of attorney fees.  Likewise, if each party must show their evidence (or lack of evidence), it again may lead to settlement.

Your attorney’s review of the available evidence and anticipated testimony will allow your attorney to prepare a solid trial strategy and eliminate weaker arguments.

If you are going through a divorce, child custody, or other family law dispute and you are not performing discovery, give us a call at 616-285-0808 to sit down and figure out if you should perform discovery.