In a family law case involving complex issues or an uncooperative party, discovery (e.g., interrogatories, requests for production of documents) may be necessary to gather information and documents. After the other party serves their responses to such requests, you may move to compel further responses with a “motion to compel” in family court.
- Requirement to “Meet and Confer.” Prior to bringing a motion to compel, you must make a reasonable and good faith attempt to resolve each issue (i.e., meet and confer). Unless no responses are served, the family law judge must sanction a moving party who fails to first meet and confer.
- Moving Papers. Unless no responses are served, a motion to compel must include a “Separate Statement” which sets forth the discovery requests at issue, the responses, and your argument as to why further responses are necessary. The Separate Statement “must be full and complete so that no person is required to review any other document.”
- Deadline to Notify Other Party. Notice of a motion to compel must be given to the other party within 45 days of service of the other party’s verified responses or before a later specified date if agreed to by the parties. Additional time is added if the responses were served by mail.
- Monetary Sanctions. Unless the family law judge finds that it would be unjust or that the party acted with substantial justification, the law requires that the court impose a monetary sanction against a party who unsuccessfully brings or opposes a motion to compel (i.e., the losing party).
- Additional Penalties. If a party fails to comply with an order compelling further responses, the court may “make those orders that are just,” including issue sanctions, evidence sanctions, terminating sanctions, and/or monetary sanctions.
Family law discovery, especially motions to compel, can be very complicated. You should contact an experienced family law attorney for assistance.
This blog was written by James J. Tiehm. James is a family law attorney at Family Law Center. He practices exclusively family law and serves the greater Sacramento area, including the counties of Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, and Yolo. If you need assistance with your divorce, including discovery issues, call James at (916) 488-5088 to schedule a consultation.