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What if the abuser is using discovery as an abuse tactic?

In some cases, an abuser might send unnecessary discovery demands as a way to continue the abuse. S/he may ask for personal information that is unrelated to the court case, for example. Keep in mind that you have to respond to valid discovery demands, but if demands are excessive or unrelated to the court case, then you may be able to object and get a judge involved.

Abusers will also file excessive motions or unreasonably delay cases in some circumstances. This type of intentional misuse of the court system as a form of harassment is often called “litigation abuse.”

If you are facing litigation abuse, you may want to try proving to the judge that the motions the other party keeps filing are without a good reason, and s/he is instead filing to harass you. You can also argue that the unreasonable delay that could be caused by the discovery is also an abuse tactic. In some courts, you might then be able to get some type of order from the judge that will help to limit the litigation abuse or its effects. This does not happen often, but some of the things the judge may order are that:

  • the party bringing the excessive motions has to pay the attorney’s fees and costs of the other party;
  • the party who files meaningless motions has to reimburse lost wages and other expenses of the other party;
  • the abused party is excused from appearing at hearings or is permitted to appear by telephone;
  • no motions or petitions can be filed or that no court appearances can be scheduled without the judge’s prior approval; or
  • requests that cause excessive or unnecessary delay, like long adjournments or excessive discovery requests, are denied.

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