“I want to file for divorce, but I am nervous because I am in the dark about our finances.” We hear this phrase all the time. First, you should know that many marriages have just one spouse who oversees bill pay, investments, savings accounts, and overall financial management. Second, this should not prevent you from filing for divorce. During the divorce process you and your attorney can work together to gain a full understanding of your finances. In fact, this is one of our top priorities for clients. We always say, you have to know what is there before you know what is fair!
Before you begin settlement negotiations or proceed to a trial, we make it a priority to ensure there is a level playing field between you and your spouse as it relates to information and an understanding of your finances. We want to ensure you have the right information to enable you to make informed strategic decisions regarding your divorce.
So, how do we level the playing field? You get there through discovery. After the initial filing of your divorce petition, you will begin the discovery process. During this process you can utilize numerous different discovery tools to ensure you are able to become just as knowledgeable as your spouse, if not more! Below are some of the most common discovery tools that you can use in your divorce to help ensure you are able to get a thorough understanding of your finances.
- Request for Production of Documents: This is a legal request for documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible items relevant to your divorce proceeding. This type of request can be issued to your spouse and requires your spouse to produce the requested items. For example, we often request bank statements. This is extremely helpful if you are either unsure what accounts are out there or you do not have access to all of your spouse’s accounts.
- Matrimonial Interrogatories: Matrimonial Interrogatories are written questions that can be issued to your spouse and require your spouse to provide written answers. Going along with the bank account example, we often ask for a list of all accounts titled in your spouse’s name, that your spouse has access to or is a beneficiary of.
- Subpoenas: Subpoenas are essentially Requests for Production of Documents that can be sent to third parties. Subpoenas are often sent to banks, financial institutions or sometimes employers to ensure you receive all relevant financial information.
- Depositions: Depositions are the discovery tool people may be most familiar with as they have seen them in movies and T.V. shows, but depositions can also be a huge asset to your divorce case. After receiving a response to a Request for Production of Documents or answers to Matrimonial Interrogatories, this may prompt more questions or perhaps you want clarification on something you found in a bank statement. A deposition can be an extremely helpful tool to efficiently answer your questions before a trial. In divorce proceedings, we also sometimes depose third parties, people who could provide vital insight into your finances.
- Request for Admission: A Request for Admission is either a series of statements of fact or documents sent to your spouse, which your spouse must either admit or deny. Once admitted, you no longer need to prove such facts or establish authenticity of such documents at trial.
Depending on the complexity of your finances and how forthcoming your spouse is with any financial information, you may end up using some or all these tools. Please remember, regardless of whether you know everything about your finances or nothing, you can still proceed with a divorce. Here at Reed, Centracchio, and Associates, LLC we pride ourselves on empowering our clients and ensuring they can make informed decisions for their future. Contact us today to learn more about your options.