When parties are going through the divorce process, the question often arises of how you can be sure that the other side is being honest and not hiding information or assets from you. The rules of procedure allow for something called discovery in order for each side to know what the other side has. Most of the time in a divorce, the parties complete discovery informally by exchanging documents. However, there are formal methods available for attorneys and parties to use.
Methods of Discovery
There are multiple methods of discovery. The most commonly used in the divorce process are interrogatories and requests for production of documents. Interrogatories allow each side to ask questions that require more in depth answers. For example, if a party is making a claim for spousal maintenance, you can ask questions about their work history, educational background, and plans for the future.
Requests for production of documents allow the two sides to exchange any documents that will be important in the divorce settlement. Often this includes bank statements, tax returns, other proof of income, and medical records, to name a few. Parties are also able to do requests for admissions, where you give a statement and the party is required to affirm or deny it.
Less common in divorces is the use of depositions, where the parties undergo questioning from the opposing side, under oath and on the record. Both parties are present for depositions and a court reporter creates a transcript from the testimony.
All forms of discovery are technically under oath, and the other party and attorney have an obligation to make a full, honest disclosure. There are remedies in the system if it is later discovered that they were keeping information from you. Discovery is an important tool to use in order to make sure both sides are making informed decisions in the divorce.