Is Discovery Allowed After a Divorce Case is Completed? Can I Conduct Discovery if a Post-Judgment Motion is Filed After a Family Law Matter has Ended? What if I am Served with Discovery Demands After My Divorce Case Ends?
These are many of the questions that we have answered over the years when people visit our office and have questions about whether discovery can be conducted after a divorce case is finalized. Discovery is a method attorneys use to gather information, which may include sending subpoenas, taking depositions, demanding documents, demanding responses to specially drafted questions called interrogatories, and so forth. For more information about discovery in divorce cases, click this link here and scroll toward the bottom of the page.
Many time, family law litigants file “post-judgment” motions to enforce or modify certain orders that were made in their divorce (or dissolution of marriage) case, which may include issues involving child support or spousal support, child custody or visitation, or other issues. When these motions are filed, the other party is “served” with the motion and has to respond and appear in court.
When family law litigants posed these questions in the past relating to post-judgment discovery matters, there was an easy answer. The answer was, “Yes, of course”. Now, however, with the recent case of Marriage of Boblitt (2014) 223 Cal. App. 4th 1004, the answer to the question of whether a person has a right to conduct post-judgment discovery in family law matters is, “Maybe”.
The Boblitt court held that there is not a presumptive right to conduct discovery after a divorce case ends, even if a party files a motion to modify or enforce a family law court order. The reason is because there is a statute that says that a party’s right to discovery is “cut off” a certain number of days before trial if a trial date has been set by the court. These rules apply to the actual divorce case as it is going on. However, the Boblitt court held that the cut off date rule does not change because a judgment has been entered and the cut off date still applies and stands. The only way a party can conduct discovery now, after the Boblitt case was decided, is to either 1) obtain the other party’s consent to conduct discovery, or 2) file a motion and ask the court to allow you to reopen discovery.