Why should I produce documents in my divorce case?

Divorce cases, under California law, often involve finances.  In order to sort out finances, documentation is necessary.  Virtually every divorce case in California requires disclosure of finances to the other side, and depending upon how complex they are, the disclosure can be quite onerous.  This is, without question, the most frustrating portion of my job.  I have to explain to clients why they should produce documents which entails a great deal of work on their part.

Let me be perfectly clear about this: it’s YOUR job, not mine, to go through your finances, unless you want to give me your passwords and power of attorney for all your assets.  When you bleed out discovery responses to me, it makes me scramble at the last minute to meet a deadline that you have been aware of for at least an entire month, and usually more.  There are very few businesses where this level of disrespect is tolerated.  Why do clients get away with it?  Because the deadline is set by LAW and the client can suffer pretty serious consequences for blowing a deadline.  Thus the worst kind of client is the one that dumps a pile of documents on you the same day they are due, unaware of the careful preparation that needs to go into producing it since those documents will often determine what happens at trial.  If you don’t hand over the documents now, don’t expect the other lawyer to make it easy for you use them later.  I wouldn’t if I were them.  Trial by ambush does not go over well with any judge.

If you want to get fired by your attorney, make his or her job as difficult as possible by being unreasonable and being unhelpful. If you want to screw your case up, do the same.  Just don’t blame your lawyer if they told you again and again to cooperate.

There may be some school of though out there that playing games with discovery is a tactic.  It’s simply not one that I use.  I represent straight shooters, people who have nothing to hide.  I get good results, for honest clients, and avoid taking clients who are looking to “game” the system.  Unless you have a judge who is completely asleep at the wheel, you are going to have a tough time getting away with game-playing.  I advise against it, and if you are on the other side of a case against me and intend upon engaging in gamesmanship, you may find that at the end of the case it would have been better for your client, and easier for you, to have just played it straight.