Discovery in DivorceJune 11, 2015
Discovery in Divorce is Part of the Process
I am often asked by clients, “why do I have to provide my spouse with copies of my personal credit card statements?!”. The answer is because the law says so. Discovery may be used in a divorce matter to obtain information that is not voluntarily provided. Discovery is the global term used to describe the various methods of formal information gathering. Discovery may be a written request for documents sent to the other party, and/or interrogatories, which are simply questions that the other party must honestly answer in writing.
In a divorce, information gathering is very important and often relevant for reasons that are not immediately obvious. For example, if one spouse is pursuing alimony, the court must determine if that spouse actually has an economic need for it and whether or not the other spouse has the ability to pay. Perhaps a husband is seeking alimony and his wife does not believe he has a true economic need because she believes he tends to spend money unnecessarily. In that instance, husband’s credit card statements may be relevant to wife’s argument against alimony. Conversely, in that same situation, wife’s individual bank statements may be relevant to husband proving that wife has an ability to pay alimony. In either case, the spouse from whom the discovery is sought is required to timely and truthfully provide it.
Another form of discovery is an oral deposition. Oral depositions are not quite as common in divorce matters; however, they do occur. The spouse being deposed must answer questions, under oath, presented by the other party’s attorney and the questions/answers are recorded by a court reporter who transcribes the recording into a written transcript.
While discovery can be time-consuming and may feel unnecessary, it is an important step in a divorce where there are economic issues to resolve.