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What is the Discovery Phase in a Florida Divorce Case?

Discovery is typically the fourth step during a contested Florida divorce process.

business woman shows a businessman to sign a agreementGenerally, the steps of contested divorce may include:

  1. Filing a petition for dissolution of marriage
  2. Filing an Answer
  3. Filing required paperwork
  4. Discovery
  5. Mediation
  6. Parenting plans
  7. Hearing

The discovery phase is the opportunity for family law attorneys to gather information relevant to the case and to head off any surprises that may come up at trial.

In Florida, each spouse in a divorce case has the right to information and evidence the other spouse may have, including:

  • Financials, income, assets, accounts, debts—including those that might be hidden
  • Documents, text messages, photos, and recordings
  • Possible witnesses
  • Statements on specific facts

In a contested divorce, information gathered during this discovery could be invaluable as your attorney builds an effective case on your behalf.

Information gathered from discovery could be instrumental in matters of child support, child custody, property distribution, and alimony.

Florida provides many discovery tools attorneys can use to gather information, prepare arguments for the trial, and negotiate a settlement from a position of strength.

Below, we’ll look at discovery tools used during the discovery phase, including penalties for not cooperating with discovery requests.

But first, if you’re considering a divorce or have received a petition for dissolution of marriage we highly recommend retaining an experienced Family Law Attorney.

Fusco Law Group can provide you with reliable and knowledgeable legal representation regarding a divorce. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Fusco Law Group at (904) 567-3113 for a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Discovery in a Florida Divorce 

What tools of discovery may be used in a divorce case in Florida?

Attorneys have several legal tools at their disposal to gather information during the discovery phase of the divorce case.

Interrogatories: Written questions that must be answered under oath.

Requests for productions of documents: A request for the opposing spouse to gather documents that may be used as evidence in the case.

Request for admissions: A request that the opposing spouse admits or denies statements of certain facts.

Depositions: A formal means of obtaining witness testimony under oath from the other spouse or a third party.

Subpoenas: A court-ordered written demand for an individual to appear at a specific place or time to give testimony or written information under oath.

Do you need to respond to discovery requests in a Florida divorce?

In Florida, the general rule is that discovery requests need to be responded to within 30 days. Both parties may agree to an extension.

If the spouse does not comply with a discovery request, then a Motion to Compel may be filed in court as a formal order to respond to the request.

The judge has broad discretion when it comes to parties failing to respond to a discovery request and may order that the non-responding spouse pay legal and court fees incurred by the Motion to Compel filing.

If the spouse ignores a Motion to Compel, a Motion for Contempt may be ordered by the court. Failure to respond to this motion may lead to a Motion for Criminal Contempt. At this point, the non-responding spouse may face court-ordered sanctions, including being sentenced to jail.

Get the Legal Help You Need

A divorce can be a complicated legal process, especially when contested. An experienced Family Law Attorney can help protect your rights in a divorce.

Contact the Fusco Law Group: (904) 567-3113 for a free consultation.