You and your spouse are getting a divorce. But, your spouse won’t provide financial information to you. In that case, what rights do you have?
Must my Spouse Provide Financial Info?
Yes. In a divorce matter, you have a right to your spouse’s financials. “Discovery” is the process for getting this information. It describes what you may ask for and the deadlines for responding.
Each spouse in a divorce is required to provide financial information to the other. In many cases, the parties engage in “informal discovery”. Both sides make requests of the other without legal formalities. An email or short letter is enough. Therefore, informal discovery is typically quicker and cheaper.
Since lawyers know this, most clients agree to informal discovery. If both spouses comply, this resolves any disclosure issues.
However, what if informal discovery doesn’t work? Now, formal discovery is the next step. This involves formal processes using properly legally formatted documents. Examples include:
- Interrogatories: Written questions that must be answered under oath.
- Request for Production of Documents: Written requests for particular financial documents.
- Depositions: An oral examination of a spouse, with a written record, by the other spouse’s attorney.
Because they are more cost-effective, interrogatories and document requests are the most typical.
If one spouse fails to comply with informal discovery, this can set off red flags to the other spouse and his or her attorney. For this reason, these formal discovery requests can be more extensive and time consuming.
What do I do if my Spouse doesn’t comply?
But, what if informal and formal discovery have both failed? The next step is a “Motion to Compel“. This is a legal request the a Judge order the non-compliant spouse to produce the requested information.
The other spouse can respond with a defense. The Judge will then decide whether or not to order discovery. If the Judge orders discovery and the non-compliant spouse continues to fail to produce it, that spouse can be found in contempt of Court. This includes several possible sanctions, including jail time in an extreme case. More typically, you may be awarded attorney’s fees.
For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page. If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page.