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New Discovery Rules in Texas 1024 683 Gardner Smith & Hill

New Discovery Rules in Texas

New Discovery Rules in Texas

Starting January 1, 2021, the rules of discovery will change. These changes will affect almost all types of lawsuits, but they will have a major impact on divorces and custody suits. In short, a person in a lawsuit must turn over all relevant documents within 30 days of his appearance in a case. Yes, it is as broad as it sounds.

These amendments to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure require a party to provide all documents related to real estate, pensions, retirement accounts, all types of insurance, and the most recent statement pertaining to any account at a financial institution. You can read the text of these amendments here. These documents must be given to the other side no later than 30 days after the Answer is filed.

The rules in effect through December 31, 2020 allow the parties to request these documents through discovery on their own timelines or exchange them by agreement. As of January 1, 2021, these documents automatically are required to be disclosed just by your participation in a lawsuit.

Additional information must be exchanged if child support or spousal support is at issue, including information related to medical insurance, income tax returns for the last two years, and the two most recent payroll statements.

Obviously, these documents are important and provide necessary information; but, this accelerated timeframe for disclosure will also increase the cost of litigation. Discovery is one of the most expensive parts of any lawsuit, and being forced to gather such a broad range of documents at the outset, especially in a divorce, will increase the cost of an already expensive process. The first two to four weeks of any divorce is already one of the most expensive phases of the process.

If the other party does not disclose these documents, you must still turn over the documents you have in your possession. If you have not turned over the relevant documents, you will not be allowed to conduct discovery until you do.

These disclosure rules will not apply to cases filed on or before December 31, 2020. If you know you want to get divorced, change custody, or change other terms in a family law case, you may want to consider filing suit before the end of the year since the new rules go into effect on January 1, 2021.  Call an attorney you trust to discuss the pros and cons of filing suit now.

If you are considering divorce or another type of family law case, please contact our office at 817-336-3600 for a consultation with one of our lawyers. With over 175 years of combined experience, Gardner Smith & Hill can help accomplish your goals.