Last year the Family Law world was thrown for a loop–new legal authority in the form of a court case (Marriage of Boblitt) found that unless there was an agreement from the opposing side or a court order allowing the reopening of discovery, there was no right to post-judgment discovery.
“Discovery” is the ability to force production of documents, answers to questions, etc. to both explore legal claims and to prove them. In Family Law, many issues survive a trial or a mutually-agreeable Judgment: e.g., spousal support, child custody, child support, enforcement of property divisions, orders relating to pensions, etc. In most cases to effectively assess or litigate these issues “discovery” is a must.
In my opinion, the Boblitt case threw up an unreasonable obstacle to post-Judgment discovery, as it is often difficult to obtain the opposing party’s consent to reopen discovery, and expensive and time consuming (as well as uncertain as to the result) to obtain the court’s approval.
Fortunately, effective January 1, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law emergency legislation which introduced a new Family Code Section, Section 218.
Under the newly enacted Family Code Section 218, discovery will reopen automatically upon the filing of a post-judgment motion as to the issues raised in that motion.
Exactly how this new Family Code section will be interpreted by the Courts and its overall effect on post-judgment family law matters remains to be seen. At Divorce Helpline, our consultants and mediators can help you navigate the complexities of discovery, and help you obtain the documents and information you need to successfully mediate, or litigate, your case.