It can be hard to know how to get certain information. Check with court staff to see if what you are looking for is something that the court can request through a Direction to Disclose. Some options that may be open to people could include:
Requesting an Order to Disclose (Appear and Disclose)
o Court staff may be able to ask for certain kinds of information to be filed by the other party as part of the court case (through a Direction to Disclose). Court staff, or a judge, may be able to grant an Order to Disclose or some other kind of order directing the person provide the information. Check with your local court staff about what can be done in your situation.
Requesting an Order to Non-party
o Sometimes people, like employers, may have information that you may want for your case, like pay information for one of the parties involved. A court officer may be able to issue what is called an ‘order to non-party’ to get further financial information that is related to the case before the court.
o These are only issued if the party who the information is about has not provided the information and the court officer has taken steps to get the information through both a Direction to Disclose and then an Order to Disclose (Appear and Disclose). Check with court staff about whether this option might be used in your case.
o In family law, discoveries are usually only held in divorce cases, if at all, unless a judge says otherwise.
o ‘Discoveries’ are question and answer sessions held out of court. They are meant to give the people involved more information about the facts of the case. They may be used to gather documents or other physical information needed for a case. Having discoveries sometimes helps people to decide whether they should try to settle the problem without a hearing or trial or how well they might do if they go ahead and have the hearing or trial.
o There are special court rules about whether you can have a discovery, when you can do these, and who you can ask to go to a discovery. Often you will need a judge’s permission to have a discovery. A discovery cannot be done after a certain point in the proceedings.
o Holding discoveries costs money. You have to hire a person with special training to record them (certified court reporters and transcribers). If you want a transcript of what happened (a written report about everything that was said and by whom), then an additional fee will be charged. Check under ‘transcription services’ or ‘discovery services’ in your Yellow Pages or search engine to find out more about them.
o In certain cases, discoveries can be requested and booked by either of the parties. Depending on the situation, either of the parties or other witnesses with information that is ‘relevant’ (connected or related) to the court case can be discovered, if they are given notice. Discoveries are usually booked at times when both people agree so that it keeps the costs down and everyone is available to go.
o These are written questions done in a special form that are to be answered by the other party. They are to be used to ask questions that are relevant to the case.
o A subpoena is a court document that requires a person to give evidence at a court proceeding (usually a hearing or trial). For more information about subpoenas, click here.
Requesting an ‘Order for Production’
o Sometimes a person in a court case may want to make a special motion or application to the court for an ‘Order for Production.’ An Order for Production is a court order that requires a named person to produce copies of certain documents or files. They are usually ordered when the information being requested has a special connection to the case. Often they deal with information that will be helpful to the court and the parties in having a better understanding about the situation. An example of something that could be ordered to be produced could be a medical record for one of the parties or for the child.
o The documents or files produced as a result of the Order for Production are normally given to the court, but could be required to be given to one of the parties who would then reproduce the document or file for all of the other parties and the court.
o The person being asked to produce the information, as well as all other parties to the court case, must be given notice of the motion requesting the Order for Production.
o The person being asked to produce the information has the right to come to court and argue that the file should not be given out. Sometimes the records deal with very private or personal information. Special rules may apply to these cases and how the information can be disclosed, whether some information may be deleted or held back, and who can see the information.
The things listed above may be dealt with in your local court’s rules. You should see a lawyer if you have a situation where you think any of these might be needed. There may be other ways to get information too, but these are some of the most common ways that people gather information that may be relevant to the case but that they do not have in their possession.
Civil Procedure Rules
Family Court Rules
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