In Georgia, a party “may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party…” OCGA §9-11-26(b)(1). In a family law cases, this means a party can obtain information about pretty much anything because almost every aspect of a person’s life is relevant.
A common method of obtaining discovery in a family law action is through a deposition. OCGA §9-11-30. In a deposition, one party asks oral questions to another person that must be answered under oath. Depositions may be taken of a party to the case, or of a non-party who may have information relevant to the case. The party seeking the deposition must “give reasonable notice to every other party to the action” so that all may be present at the deposition. OCGA §9-11-30(b)(1). Depositions must be recorded by stenographic means (i.e. by a court reporter), and may also be recorded by sound or sound and visual means. OCGA §9-11-30(b)(3).
In family law actions, depositions can be extremely beneficial because they allow a party to see the opposing party as they are answering questions. Facial expressions and tone of voice can be very telling, and will be particularly helpful if the deposition is videotaped and can be used as evidence during a hearing.
One downside to depositions is that they can be very costly. The person requesting the deposition must pay the costs of the court reporter and other recording means (if used). They are often lengthy and, thus, costly attorney’s fees also must be taken into consideration if a person is considering this method of discovery. In determining whether to take a deposition, a party should weigh the costs and benefits of doing so.