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C. Eric Schmidt - Attorney at Law


Marilyn Gale Vilyus - Founding Attorney - Semi-retired - of counsel to C.E. Schmidt and Associates, Attorneys at Law

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    Energy Corridor:
        14780 Memorial Dr, Ste 103
        Houston, Texas 77079



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Why Discovery? Why Me? and What Did I Do to Deserve This?

By: Marilyn Gale Vilyus

It is a policy of our firm that we voluntarily provide information to which the other side is entitled.  We do this to keep down the cost of the case and to move things forward so as to expedite a settlement agreement where one is possible.

There is no point in arguing about the inevitable.  Further, you can’t divide the "apples" and "oranges" until you agree how many there are and what they are worth!

Unfortunately, though, there are times when we are forced to send discovery to protect our client’s interests.  This occurs when the opposing counsel and/or party refuses to co-operate with us or when we suspect that they are not including all assets.

Sometimes, the other side sends us discovery even though we have been co-operating with them and have been honest and forthcoming in producing the information our client has provided.  This is when our client is likely to ask the question:  “Why me?”

Generally speaking, discovery is a "royal pain" for all concerned.  Sometimes, opposing counsel sends it for no good reason except to be annoying.

Admittedly, they might think they are just doing a good job!!!!!  We know that we practice with integrity.  And, we have “people to see, places to go and things to do,” and are not interested in having to charge our clients any more in attorney fees than is absolutely necessary.  We empathize with our clients when we have to embark on this paper trail journey when it is forced upon us without good reason!

Although sometimes in a divorce, the attorneys will take the depositions of the other party or other persons, the following are the discovery documents most commonly used:

  • Requests for Disclosure,
  • Requests for Production,
  • Interrogatories, and
  • Requests for Admission.

Requests for Disclosure are generally completed by your attorney, although he will ask you for certain information to help him complete it.  This document contains your legal arguments, and so it is the one with which you will be least involved.

Requests for Production ask for documents which exist.  Commonly, this includes items such as the following:

  • Financial Information Sheets
  • Inventories and Appraisements
  • Documents showing proof of income:  pay stubs, employment contracts, retirement statements, bonus letters, etc.
  • Checking account statements and account ledgers
  • Lease agreements, real estate documents, car titles
  • Documents regarding debts:  credit card statements, loan agreements, mortgage statements.

This is just the briefest of summaries.  However, you get the idea, and also how time-consuming it could be to 

Please note that your attorney will file objections to certain requests as is appropriate.  However, be aware that most of what is requested will usually be legitimate.

TIP:  if you need to order bank statements, do it immediately because it can take several months to get them.

Interrogatories often overlap the items requested above.  Here, the questions may require answers that do or do not involve actual “documents.”

Our firm recommends answering the Requests for Production first.  Then, if the same request occurs in an Interrogatory, your attorney will just refer to the specific response to the Request for    Production for which the information was provided.

Request for Admissions -- This is the section where your opposing counsel will ask you to describe everyone with whom you have had sexual relations other then your spouse during the marriage.  This is where you will be asked to admit drug abuse, physical abuse, your gambling or alcohol addiction, etc.

As soon as your attorney receives discovery requests, he will forward them to you so that you can begin gathering your documents and information.  Responses are due 30 days after they have been received.

You should have your information to your attorney within two weeks so as to allow him to review it, properly organize it, and get back to you if additional information is needed from you.

If your responses are not complete enough, your spouse’s attorney will put you on notice that they require additional information or they will file a Motion to Compel with the Court.  Of course, you have the same right to compel complete responses from the other side.

If you find yourself in this situation, please know that our firm does our very best to be as organized and efficient as possible, and to help our clients organize their documents, information and responses as painlessly as possible!

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