Discovery in Your Florida Divorce: Disclosing Information to Your Spouse
When you go through a divorce in the state of Florida, you must disclose certain types of information to your spouse, and vice versa. The process of gathering this information and providing it to your spouse is called discovery. The purpose of discovery is to ensure that there are no surprises in your divorce proceedings. The goal is to make the divorce process as transparent as possible in order to reach a fair and equitable resolution of all divorce-related matters.
Florida Family Law Rule 12.285 requires that parties to a contested divorce exchange certain types of information within certain timeframes, depending on the type of proceeding at issue. The parties must complete one of two financial affidavits, which differ based on the party’s gross annual income. Other required documents for disclosure are as follows:
- Federal and state income tax returns for the past year, along with W-2 and 1099 forms and other attachments
- Paycheck stubs or other evidence of earned income for the prior three months
- All deeds, promissory notes, and leases executed in the last three years
- Statements from all checking accounts for the last three months and statements from all other accounts for the last 12 months
- The most recent statement for any retirement, profit-sharing, deferred compensation, or pension plan
Rule 12.285 also requires that the parties submit a number of other financial documents to one another, to the extent that they exist in their particular case, such as any premarital or prenuptial agreements.
Discovery Tools for Hidden Assets
If you suspect that your spouse is not fully disclosing all assets or accounts, there are other discovery techniques that you can use in order to uncover these assets. For instance, interrogatories are written questions to your spouse that he or she must answer under oath and return to you within a 30-day time period. A request for production, on the other hand, asks for written documents in addition to those required for disclosure by Rule 12.285, such as appraisals and expert reports. Depositions involve the spouses and their attorneys gathering in front of a court reporter in order for the parties to answer questions related to the divorce under oath. While depositions can be very effective in determining how a spouse is likely to respond to a particular question at trial, they also can be expensive, in that you must pay a court reporter, often for several hours of time, and pay for a written transcript of the deposition.
Call the Experienced Florida Divorce Attorney You Know and Trust
If you are headed toward divorce or separation from your spouse or partner, financial disclosure is a tedious, time-consuming, but absolutely necessary part of the legal proceedings. Due to the potential complexity of the discovery and mandatory disclosure process, you should be sure to seek the legal advice and guidance that only a skilled and knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer can give you. Contact Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, today to set up a consultation.