Figuring out how much property a married couple owns and getting an accurate picture of the family finances is an essential part of the divorce process. The procedure for gathering and providing this information to the other side is known as "discovery." There are several ways to obtain discovery. The first is by way of a request for disclosure and production where the parties ask for certain items from each other. Another method is through interrogatories, which is a list of questions that you send to the opposing side. Sometimes depositions are used in divorce cases. During a deposition, sworn testimony is taken from a party and any witnesses involved, and anything said during a deposition can be used in court. A written list of facts, known as admissions of facts, is served on a party asking that party to either admit to or deny each fact.
In divorce cases in Connecticut, parties usually start with a "standard discovery request" also known as a Request for Mandatory Disclosure and Production. This standard request asks for the following basic documents and information:
· federal and state tax returns for the last 3 years
· W2s, 1099s and K1 statements for the last 3 years
· pay stubs for the current year and the last pay stub for the previous year
· monthly statements for bank accounts, credit cards, and brokerage or other financial accounts for the past 24 months
· the most recent statement for any IRA, 401K, profit sharing plan, pension plan, retirement account or deferred compensation plan
· the most recent life insurance policy statement
· a summary of a party's medical insurance policy showing coverage, cost, spousal benefits and the cost of COBRA coverage
· any written appraisals for any assets owned by the parties
· a sworn financial affidavit*
In some cases, attorneys may need to obtain information that extends beyond these basic requests in order to uncover documents that might lead to the discovery of hidden assets, for example. Such requests might ask for documents related to business or personal travel, reimbursed and unreimbursed business expenses, tax payments and refunds, retirement plan contributions and distributions, rental income, schedules and attachments to tax returns, leases for safe deposit boxes and storage units, gifts and loans, loan applications, and trust documents. If a party runs or owns a business, the attorneys will request documents needed to figure out the value of the business or party's interest in the business.
No matter how simple or complicated your case might be, it is your attorney's job to not only make sure you're complying with the other side's discovery requests, but to also protect you from discovery requests that are intended to embarrass, harass or burden you. It is also your attorney's job to make sure you are getting all the necessary documents and information from your spouse so that you and your attorney can be properly prepared for court or settlement negotiations. The discovery process during a divorce can feel painful and invasive. Knowing what kind of information can be requested - by you or from you - in a divorce case can help prepare you for what's to come.
*For more information on what this sworn financial affidavit is and how to fill it in, watch for our upcoming blog on that subject!