In New Jersey, we have various forms of pre-trial discovery. The most commonly used discovery vehicles in family law matters are as follows:
- Parties may serve requests for the production of documents, commonly referred to as a Notice to Produce.
- Parties may serve demands for certified responses to written questions, commonly referred to as Interrogatories.
- Parties may issue a demand for the other party’s, or a third party’s, appearance for live pre-trial testimony under oath, commonly referred to as a Deposition.
Simultaneous to the exchange of paper discovery and the taking of depositions, the parties may retain various experts to opine on the contested issues. The most commonly used experts in family law matters are as follows:
- Parties may retain a forensic psychologist to opine as to what custody and parenting time arrangements will serve the best interests of the children.
- Parties may retain a forensic accountant to opine as to the cash flow and/or value of a party’s business interests, or to perform a marital lifestyle analysis.
- Parties may retain a real estate or personal property appraiser to opine as to the value of real or personal property.
- Parties may retain an employability expert to opine as to a party’s ability to earn income outside of the home.
Discovery is intended to bring all parties onto a level playing field of information as to the contested issues in a case. While it is costly and time consuming, the discovery process is intended to facilitate settlement and, as needed, prepare the case for trial.
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