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Discovery in Texas Family Law Cases

Family, Divorce & Children

This article explains the discovery process in Texas family law cases.

Here, you will learn about requests for disclosure and expert witnesses in Texas family law cases.

New discovery laws created by the Texas Legislature took effect for family law cases filed after September 1, 2023. In family law cases, the parties are no longer required to exchange mandatory initial disclosures, which is different from what happens in other civil cases.

What is discovery?

Discovery is the legal process that lets each side of a lawsuit ask the other side for information that is related to the case. You can read more about discovery in general in the article Discovery in Texas. 

There are many types of discovery requests in Texas. Some include:  

What are required initial disclosures?

Required initial disclosures are a type of discovery in which parties to new lawsuits have to exchange certain types of information within 30 days of the filing of an answer, waiver of service, or counterpetition.

Do I still have to give required initial disclosures?

No. In family law cases filed after September 1, 2023, parties do not have to exchange mandatory initial disclosures. The information exchanged in these initial disclosures can now be obtained through the regular discovery process. A party may obtain this information by filing a request for disclosure during the discovery period of their case.

What are requests for disclosure?

A party may request the other party disclose:

  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers for any parties or potential parties to the lawsuit;
  • Legal theories and facts that support the party’s claims;
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers for anyone with knowledge of information relevant to the case with a brief explanation of each person’s connection to the case
  • Information on testifying experts;
  • And other relevant facts or information listed in Texas Family Code 301.052.

Texas Family Code 301.051 through 301.056 governs requests for disclosure in family law cases.

What am I required to give the other side?

You must give the other side your answers no later than 30 days after you are served with the request for disclosure. If an answer requires documents, you must also provide copies of any requested documents and other tangible items.  

Rare exceptions may apply. Read Responding to Discovery Requests and Texas Family Code 301.503 and 301.504 to learn more.

What are the differences between the discovery rules in the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and the Texas Family Code?

The Texas Family Code discovery rules that went into effect on September 1, 2023, cover Requests for Disclosure and expert witnesses. The rules about expert witnesses cover designation (naming or choosing expert witnesses), depositions, court-ordered reports, and cost. 

Currently, the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure still govern any requests for admissions, production, inspection, entry, interrogatories, non-expert witness depositions, and mental or physical examinations.

Where can I read the rules on discovery?

The family law discovery rules can be found in Texas Family Code Title 6, chapter 301 and Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Section 9(B).

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