Georgia Family Law “ Discovery”

THE DISCOVERY PROCESS-BE PREPARED TO PAY

Beware useless litigation. After spending years litigating domestic matters and always charging a flat
fee I have noticed certain trends used when billing clients and one of the civil procedures used is known
as discovery. Discovery is the process in GA in which civil litigants are allowed to demand certain
relevant documents, written responses to question and depositions of parties in which an individual is
put on the record personally responding to questions.

This is a very necessary process in complicated civil litigation in which the litigants are attempting to
prepare a case, verify and discover relevant information. The difference with domestic matters, in
particular divorce, is that the parties usually no everything about each other from bank accounts to all of
the birth marks and everything in between. Unless a party has a very complicated portfolio and is
consciously hiding assets this process does not need to be difficult.

Sadly, this is easily one of the most prolonged procedures in the litigation process when it does not have
to be. I can speculate as to why someone bills extensive hours and spends months in this process when
two individuals have a home, a retirement account and several credit cards.
I endlessly become frustrated as I try to resolve matters and move them to resolution either by consent
or in court and must deal with a barrage of document requests, I become more frustrated when every
attorney sends the same boilerplate discovery out. Rarely is it client specific and rarely is it used as
actual evidence. However, it takes hours and hours to process and prolongs every matter.
Certain counties, such as Fulton County, have tried to alleviate some of this burden in their family court
by demanding limited mandatory discovery of relevance. Of course, most attorneys still ask for
extensive discovery prolonging the process and expenses.
As they say buyer beware. As clients enter into very expensive litigation they should be very educated
as to why they are being asked to spend thousands of dollars to retrieve bank accounts and statements
which they already have. They should question whey there are hours of legal research being done on a
life and financial portfolio already well documented by individuals who have shared a life for years.
Sadly most clients don’t realize this work in being done and are shocked when they receive the invoice
and more sadly they cannot finish the litigation as all of their resources are depleted during this process
and they still have not every begun to resolve their conflict.

Since my office works on a flat fee we do not advocate unproductive litigation and seek always not to
escalate the attorneys time but move the matter to actual resolution. Ask your attorney to commit in
writing to a cost but if you leave the matter open ended do not be surprised that it endlessly remains
open.