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The Discovery Process During Divorce in Mississippi
Discovery is the official process of gaining information in a lawsuit. There are a number of forms of discovery, including depositions, interrogatories, request for admissions, request for production of documents, request for inspection of land, requests for mental or physical examinations, and subpoenas.
A deposition is a question and answer session that takes place under oath in the presence of a court reporter (the person whom you see operating the little typewriter-like machine in courtrooms on television). It is a discovery device used to gain information from the person being deposed. Depositions will usually take place in one of the attorney's offices at a conference table, and both you and your spouse have the right to attend with your attorney. I can ask questions of a witness under oath in a deposition if that person may know something pertinent to your case. Depositions can last thirty minutes or a full day, depending on the skill of the attorneys, the nature of the case and the complexity of the issues. Depositions are usually very expensive, so we will work closely with one another to make sure that any deposition taken is necessary.
Not only do you have to pay me to be present, but you will also have to pay for the court reporter and for other related expenses. The Judge will not read your deposition before trial except in very special circumstances, but the person being deposed must still tell the truth under penalty of perjury, just as if they were testifying in open court. The penalty for perjury is very steep, so it is important to tell the truth. Depositions are used to find out information and to hold a person to their story in court. It is very common for a person's testimony in court to be compared to the story they told at their deposition.
Interrogatories and requests for admissions are written questions that you must answer within thirty to forty-five days after the lawyer receives these requests. Interrogatories are tools used to gain information and requests for admissions will narrow certain issues by having you or your spouse admit or deny certain things. Most lawyers have a bunch of form questions that they will ask in any divorce action, and it will be up to me to make sure that the questions are designed to actually lead to information that would be useful in the divorce case. Requests for production of documents are just that, a request of one of the parties to the divorce to produce certain documents that they may have in their possession or control, like bank statements or car titles.
When the mental or physical condition (including the blood group for paternity actions) of a party or a child is in controversy, the Judge may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination. The order may be made only upon formal request for a good reason.
A subpoena is an official piece of paper stamped by the chancery clerk that can require a witness to attend a deposition or a hearing in court, or it may require the person or business served with the subpoena to provide certain requested information within a specified period.
Mississippi decides property division based on equitable distribution, and they are the only state in the U.S. that takes the name on the title of property into account.
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