Discovery is the process of obtaining information from the opposing party in the course of a lawsuit. Discovery is governed by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure (Pa. R.C.P.). Rule 1930.5 states that there shall be no discovery in a simple support, custody or Protection from Abuse proceeding unless authorized by court. In order for you to be allowed to send discovery in a support matter, you must get your case deemed complex by the court. An example of a potentially complex support case requiring discovery would be one where one, or both, of the parties are self-employed. Procedure in Bucks County calls for a hearing date on the issue of whether or not discovery should be permitted. If so, the substantive portion of the hearing will be postponed pending completion of discovery as granted.
Formal discovery methods must adhere to the Rules of Civil Procedure and the acceptable methods include interrogatories, depositions, production requests, subpoenas to produce things and/or documents, and/or requests for admission. Interrogatories and production request are the most frequent methods of discovery in family law cases. Interrogatories are a written set of questions for the other party to answer. A production request lists all the documents a party is seeking. Subpoenas are a good tool when it is necessary to get information directly from the source in the instance a party does not have it, will not cooperate in turning it over, or you suspect they may tamper with the documentation. Examples of relevant documentation to seek in a support may include personal and business tax returns, W-2s, 1099 Forms, pay stubs, income projections, profit and loss statements, balance sheets, business ledgers, summaries or appraisals of all assets/property/equipment owned by the business, and statements for all personal and business bank accounts and/or credit cards.