My spouse won’t turn over his/her discovery documents. What can I do?

 

In the divorce process both parties have to go through a discovery process.  The parties may choose to informally disclose their assets and liabilities to each other by exchanging bank statements or other documents.  Sometimes the parties will execute a financial disclosure statement and exchange that amongst their lawyers.  Other times parties may have to do more in depth discovery, requesting bank records and other financial documents as well as sending out interrogatories.  Even when attorneys send out these requests, they are not always complied with.  So, what can a litigant do when discovery is overdue?

There are a few different options.  First, a litigant may opt to send out Subpoenas to the banks and other entities that they know their spouse uses.  The bank or other entity will send out the requested documents to the party that is requesting them so long as the rules regarding Subpoenas are followed.  However, there are often copy and research costs for this method.  Subpoenas are also useful if a party feels that documents are not complete when their spouse turns them over.  However, it is hard to get the fees and costs for issuing subpoenas reimbursed if you haven’t made a good faith effort to obtain the documents from the other party, first.

Attorneys will often write “201k” letters and hold “201k” conferences.  These meetings and correspondences are designed for the attorneys to make a good faith effort to try and obtain discovery without having to file a motion before the Court or issue subpoenas.  After a number of attempts, a party can file a Motion to Compel compliance with discovery, seeking documents, responses, monetary sanctions and other non-conventional methods of obtaining discovery, such as barring the other party from testifying about a particular asset or account.

The discovery process can be long and overwhelming, but can be cost effective if everyone complies and turns over what they are supposed to as quickly as possible.

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