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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 20094
Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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Hi, Im in CA and need a CA attorney to help me, please. I

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Hi, I'm in CA and need a CA attorney to help me, please. I just became a pro-se litigant because I can no longer afford the expensive legal/court fees. My case is 2-1/2 years old and still not final. The judge asked if I'm satisfied with the discovery because he wants to set a MSC. I told him I'm not sure if this is complete (I relied heavily on my atty to let me know what I needed to do, what needed to happen, etc). So he is giving OC and me 30 days to make sure I'm comfortable that all discovery has been done.

What is entailed in an "appropriate" discovery? My ex deposed me in April, only to find nothing and cost each of us thousands of dollars doing it. There was no smoking gun (I think he thought I was hiding money). He has also suggested before that I owe him for all kinds of money from when we were married (ie. and this is an exaggeration but gives you an idea... half my bras because he "paid for them"). Other than that and really no other property (our house was a short sale), what do I need to look for?? Please help! I just need guidance on where to start, what to look for, so I can google how to go about filling out the appropriate documents, etc. Other than property and custody, what other areas am I even supposed to consider?? The judge said the discovery would cover everything.

Thank you!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

Discovery really can cover anything, but it's commonly aimed at determining if there is money or other hidden assets, who is more fit to parent children of the marriage, and whether either spouse engaged in adultery. As far as the money goes, that includes obtaining bank statements, tax returns, credit card and asset account statements, retirement account statements, pension information, and can sometimes include a deposition. When a person owns a business, it is sometimes necessary to bring in experts to value the business. Those are the main things. Adultery is really only considered if one spouse was spending marital funds to sustain an affair (such as paying for hotel room or buying gifts or expensive dinners for the paramour).

Those are very general concerns, though. What it really comes down to in a specific case is what information you feel that you need to adequately present your case at trial. If there are no children, his fitness to parent doesn't really matter. If you believe that you have a full financial picture, you may not need more. The other thing that might come up is information that might tend to reflect negatively on the other spouse's credibility at trial. That means things like evidence of criminal convictions involving false statements or crimes of dishonesty. So if a person has a perjury conviction, that can be used. But that's not terribly common in most divorce cases. It's usually about the money or about the children.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you so much.


 


So can a pro-se litigant successfully do discovery on her own?


 


Do I need to depose my ex to successfully get what I need?


 


 


Can I do an informal discovery such as a request for documents?


 


Can I use something like his past (and I'm sure also present) use of alcohol and marijuana when he's partying with his buddies, and once he came on a Sunday morning to take care of the girls hung over?


 


How much can I use how he cares for the children against him? For instance, he still changes our 8 and 5 year old girls, and they run around naked in front of him. And one of the girls saw him walking around naked in the bedroom/bathroom as well. These are concerns, but how much does that weigh on the case?



Is there a website I can go to for all the required forms to request documents (bank statements, paystubs, bonuses, etc)? I just don't know that since I'm not represented, if I can do that on my own. Please help. I appreciate your thoroughness above.



So sorry for so many questions, but the system does not provide great support for pro se litigants. :-( Thank you!




 

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

So can a pro-se litigant successfully do discovery on her own?


Yes. You can serve discovery requests on your own, and can file a Motion to Compel if they do not respond.


Do I need to depose my ex to successfully get what I need?


That's very case specific. It depends on what you need. Depositions are not done in every case. If he's not claiming inability to pay and you have no reason to believe that he is hiding assets, it may not be necessary. But you can do a deposition if you wish.

 

Can I do an informal discovery such as a request for documents?


Yes. You can also do Interrogatories and Requests for Admission, or a Deposition by Written Question (if you didn't want to do the question/answer format of a normal deposition).


Can I use something like his past (and I'm sure also present) use of alcohol and marijuana when he's partying with his buddies, and once he came on a Sunday morning to take care of the girls hung over?


If he is requesting custody, absolutely. That is very relevant to his ability to parent. Generally, frequent use of alcohol can count against a parent, as can any use of drugs, including marijuana.


How much can I use how he cares for the children against him? For instance, he still changes our 8 and 5 year old girls, and they run around naked in front of him. And one of the girls saw him walking around naked in the bedroom/bathroom as well. These are concerns, but how much does that weigh on the case?


Those things are pretty concerning and absolutely can be brought to the judge's attention. It's up to the judge to determine how much weight to grant any specific factor, but essentially, you're trying to create a wall of reasons that your ex shouldn't have custody. All of these things, and the partying/drug use are bricks on that wall. The more information you have, the better.


Is there a website I can go to for all the required forms to request documents (bank statements, paystubs, bonuses, etc)? I just don't know that since I'm not represented, if I can do that on my own. Please help. I appreciate your thoroughness above.

 

There are websites with examples. In any given case, those examples would usually be tailored to make sure that they specifically request the information that you want. Popular sites are www.uslegalforms.com and www.legalzoom.com. A law library would also have books that you can look at and use to type up your own requests.

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. I guess that's it for now. If I have further legal questions down the line (you've actually responded to me before...last year, I think), do you have a specific email address here? Or how do I request you? Thanks again. I appreciated your response last time and again this time. You are very thorough.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
We unfortunately aren't allowed to communicate with customers via email. However, if you put "For Lucy" on the question, I will see it and I'll reply as quickly as I can.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 20094
Experience: Attorney with experience in family law.
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