Financial Discovery: Leveling the Playing Field During Divorce

The term “discovery” is used frequently in a divorce action. Discovery is a phase after the Complaint for Divorce has been filed but before trial in which the parties exchange information. During this phase, the parties may also need to work with various experts.

Discovery can be an important stage for both parties. The spouse who managed and controlled the finances during the marriage should be prepared to make appropriate disclosures. Discovery also presents an opportunity for the less informed-spouse to investigate the family’s finances. In essence, discovery allows both parties to have access to the same information to level the playing field.

There are many discovery tools available to the parties. One spouse may serve a Notice to Produce Documents, which requires the other spouse to provide certain documents for review. They may also serve Interrogatories, which seeks sworn responses to written questions. If either party owns real estate, it may be necessary to hire an appraiser to determine the value of the real property. If one spouse owns a business, either party may utilize the services of a forensic accountant to examine the income and value of the business. It may also be necessary to obtain a Confidentiality Order to protect the privacy rights of the business owner.

The purpose of discovery is to gather information to build one’s case regarding any issue relevant to the divorce. As a general rule, any information that is relevant and material to a particular issue will be discoverable unless certain exceptions apply. The discovery process could be limited or extensive depending on the circumstances.

If you have questions regarding the divorce process, the experienced attorneys at Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP are here to help you. We are not just available to help you understand discovery tools but to help you with all of your questions about family law.