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Informal versus Formal Discovery

Papers with magnifying glass, informal versus formal discovery

Informal versus Formal Discovery

January 4, 2024

By Johnson/Turner Legal

Informal versus Formal Discovery

January 4, 2024

By Johnson/Turner Legal

In family law, particularly in divorce and custody cases, preparation is crucial. A key part of this preparation is the discovery process, which helps you and your attorney gather necessary information. Discovery can be conducted informally or formally, and understanding the differences between these two methods is essential for choosing the right strategy for your case.

Formal Discovery: Structured and Regulated

Formal discovery is a process governed by specific statutes and common law. This method includes various requests, such as interrogatories (written questions), requests for production of documents, and depositions (oral questioning under oath). Once these requests are served, the responding party is legally bound to answer within a set timeframe, as defined by Minnesota law. Failure to comply can lead to court sanctions, such as fines, evidence exclusion, or even dismissal of pleadings.

Key aspects of formal discovery:

  • Structured and time-bound
  • Governed by legal statutes
  • Can include interrogatories, document requests, and depositions
  • Non-compliance can lead to legal penalties

Informal Discovery: Flexible and Cost-effective

Informal discovery, on the other hand, involves a mutual agreement between parties to share information typically exchanged in the discovery process without the formalities of official requests. This approach can reduce legal costs, as it eliminates the need for attorneys to prepare formal discovery documents. Informal discovery is also adaptable, allowing parties to focus on specific issues, like exchanging income proofs for child support determinations.

However, its success heavily relies on the cooperation and communication between the involved attorneys. If the other party’s attorney is uncooperative, informal discovery might not be feasible.

Advantages of informal discovery:

  • Reduces legal expenses
  • Tailored to specific case needs
  • Relies on mutual cooperation between parties

Choosing the Right Discovery Method

Deciding between informal and formal discovery depends on various factors, including the complexity of your case, the level of cooperation from the other party, and your legal objectives. At Johnson/Turner, we have extensive experience in guiding our clients to select the most appropriate discovery tools for their divorce cases.

If you’re navigating a family law matter and need expert legal advice on the discovery process, contact our team today. We’re here to help you make informed decisions and move forward confidently in your case. Book a free guidance call today.


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