What Exactly Counts as Discovery?

In News by YKF Law

If you’ve ever been through a legal process or are currently going through one, you’ve probably heard the term “discovery” brought up multiple times. If you’re going through a divorce, you’ll assist your attorney with gathering everything needed for discovery.

What exactly is discovery, and what counts as discovery? Keep reading as we explain what discovery is and break down what exactly counts as discovery so you can be prepared for it when it comes time in your legal proceeding.

What is Discovery?

Discovery in a family law case refers to the exchange of information and materials that can help further a case. For example, say you are getting a divorce, and your attorney says they need to receive discovery from the other party to understand your case better. Likewise, when the other party requests discovery, they’re asking for anything that can be evidence that can help get both parties an equitable distribution of assets, spousal maintenance, marital property, and child custody.

Discovery helps further your case by providing the court with proof of something, but it also helps your attorneys prepare for your case. When discovery is requested and provided, it gives your attorney a chance to understand your marriage better, how you and your child’s other parent spent time with your children, expenses, etc. Each attorney must provide one another with their discoveries to prepare for mediation or trial. 

The exchange of discovery can be formal or informal, depending on whether the case is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce can use an informal process, while formal discovery requests are required when divorce is contested. When one or two parties can’t agree or settle without the help of a judge, the court will order discovery. The court will establish a settlement agreement that is fair and equitable for both parties. 

What are Discovery Requests?

As previously mentioned, contested divorce requires formal discovery that uses requests to exchange information. Discovery requests can be either written discovery or verbal discovery, otherwise called a deposition. 


Interrogatories are the process of gathering documents and answering questions from the other party to learn more about the individual’s financial status and history. Each attorney will write questions for the other party to fill out, and both parties attest under oath that the information provided is correct. 

Request for Production of Documents

Another written tool, the request for production of documents is when one party requests that the other provide information about their case. 

Requests for Admissions

This is a tool used where specific questions are asked, requesting the other party to either confirm or deny. It’s helpful for later use in trial to hold each party accountable for previous admissions.


Unlike previous discovery requests, subpoenas involve third parties. Third parties are requested to provide evidence or documents that help either party confirm or deny something specific about their case. For example, one party may request a subpoena for specific bank documents if they suspect the other spouse has been withholding money.


A deposition is a verbal tool where either party answers questions while in the presence of a court reporter who records the answers. This doesn’t take place in court with a Judge present, rather, in a divorce attorney’s office or the court reporter’s office.

What Counts as Discovery?

Discovery is a general term that covers a lot of bases. Anything that can be used as evidence to help your case counts. For a divorce, this could include the following materials and questions:

  • The employment history of both spouses
  • Financial documents, including bank and credit card statements
  • W2s
  • Materials/questions about the children conceived during the marriage
  • Insurance/healthcare costs
  • Tax returns
  • Real estate information
  • Appraisals

While more information for discovery could be requested by the court, the above are some examples. Any documents that provide information regarding financial status and property values are helpful for discovery. 

If trying to prove misconduct, documents like emails and text messages may be used in discovery. Missouri is a modified no-fault state, so Missouri courts will grant a divorce if the court finds the marriage can’t be preserved without having to prove someone was deceitful or committed another form of misconduct. If seeking alimony/spousal maintenance, misconduct can have an impact, so you may need to provide more information that helps prove your case.

If you’re currently going through a divorce or need help with a modification action or child custody, the Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC can help. We’re dedicated to the practice of family law and can help guide you through the entire process. Our office is in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. In addition to our physical location, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, and Platte County, Missouri. Contact our family law firm today to schedule a consultation – we can meet in person or via Zoom.

With over fifty-three years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is comprised of a team that’s skilled in both negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward. Our team of zealous attorneys will handle your case with expert knowledge and professionalism.