Family Law Blog

BC Family Law Trial Preparation: Discovery of Documents

BC Family Law Trial Preparation: Discovery of Documents

As family lawyers in BC, we do our very best to negotiate a resolution of all the issues in a family law dispute as expeditiously as possible. Regrettably, an expeditious negotiated settlement is at times unattainable because of anger or distrust between the parties. 

During a trial, a judge decides unresolved disputes between parties. While few cases proceed to trial, many cases do and undergo pre-trial procedures known as discovery before a settlement is reached. 

In this blog, we will set out what discovery of documents is, and its importance to the resolution of cases at trial or through a negotiated settlement.

What is Discovery?

Obtaining an experienced BC family law lawyer with considerable trial experience is essential in preparing for trial or a negotiated settlement throughout the disclosure of documents stage.

Discovery of documents is the legal obligation of parties to a dispute to provide the opposing party with a list of the party’s documents. Rule 9-1 of the Supreme Court Family Rules requires parties to prepare and provide the other party with a list of all relevant documents they have in their possession or control, which will in trial be used to prove or disprove a material fact.

The phrase “possession or control” means not only the documents in a party’s possession but also a document that a party can obtain (i.e. control). This would include bank statements, corporate financial statements, or medical records.

The phrase, “be used to prove or disprove a material fact,” importantly illustrates that a party is obligated to disclose all documents, including documents detrimental to that party’s position in the case.

Why is Discovery Important?

The requirement that all other documents a party intends to refer to at trial be provided indicates that the rules are intended to ensure, as much as possible, that parties are not ambushed or caught off guard at trial.

Frequently, a party’s provision of a list of documents and an experienced lawyer’s review of said documents will lead to demands for the disclosure of further documents. 

For example, the discovery process may assist a party in a case where the party believes that the opposing party’s income is greater than disclosed by using corporate income to pay personal expenses. The party would demand bank and credit card statements, as well as corporate credit card and corporate expense ledgers, which may assist their argument. 

Find Out More

A seasoned family lawyer with experience in preparing for and conducting trials is essential in assisting clients with demanding the right documents for their case. We are happy to assist clients with their questions on any aspect of Family Law in BC. Please contact us at the form below to get started.