My spouse is hiding income and assets and we are getting divorced. How can I get documents showing the hidden money?
The Discovery Process
Discovery is one of the least talked about steps in divorce, but it is often one of the most important. The discovery process enables you and your spouse to meet on a more level playing field when it comes to settling your case or taking it to trial. Discovery is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit during which each party can obtain evidence from the opposing party. The purpose of discovery is to ensure that both you and your spouse have access to the same information. In this way, you can either negotiate a fair agreement or have all of the facts and documents to present to the judge at trial. The discovery process enables you and your spouse to meet on a more level playing field when it comes to settling your case or taking it to trial. You and your spouse both need the same information if you hope to reach agreement on any of the issues in your divorce. Often, one spouse controls all the finances and the other spouse knows nothing about the parties’ financial situation. Similarly, the judge must know all of the facts to make a fair decision.
The discovery process may seem tedious at times because of the need to obtain and to provide lots of detailed information. Completing it, however, can give tremendous clarity about the issues in your divorce. Trust your lawyer’s advice about the importance of having the necessary evidence as you complete the discovery process in order to reach your goals in your divorce.
What types of discovery might be done by my lawyer or my spouse’s lawyer?
Types of discovery include:
• Interrogatories—which are written questions that must be answered under oath
• Requests for production of documents—asking that certain documents be provided by you or your spouse
• Requests for admissions—asking that certain facts be admitted or denied
• Subpoena of documents—requesting documents from any party that might have them
• Depositions—in which questions are asked and answered in the presence of a court reporter but outside the presence of a judge.
Factors that can influence the type of discovery conducted in your divorce can include:
• The types of issues in dispute
• How much access you and your spouse have to needed information
• The level of cooperation in sharing information
• The budget available for performing discovery
Talk to your lawyer about the nature and extent of discovery anticipated in your case.