Discovery during divorce: What it means for you

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) — Michigan law requires that both parties in a divorce disclose all of their assets during the divorce process if either party requests it or the court orders them to so that they may reach a fair settlement or go to trial.  This process is called Discovery.  Discovery is used to obtain information about both parties assets as it relates to spousal support, property division, child support, visitation and custody.

Not all spouses are privy to information about their mate’s retirement accounts, investments, businesses and other financial accounts.  Since spousal support and child support are calculated on the basis of income it is important that all financial information is disclosed truthfully.   Discovery is the way the attorneys gather information.

One of the tools of Discovery is the Interrogatory which is a series of questions that must be answered and returned to the opposing parties attorney.  Quite often both parties are sent interrogatories and given a period of time to answer and return them.  All answers must by given truthfully.

Depositions is another.  A deposition is a questioning, under oath, by opposing counsel where answers are recorded by a court transcriptionist and can be used as evidence.  Both attorneys are present during a deposition and it is usually held in one of the attorney’s office.

Subpoenas and requests to produce documents are often used to gather financial information from banks, employers and investment companies.  A Subpoena may also be served upon a person who is required to appear as a witness at a trial if they have pertinent information.

When children are involved, discovery can be used to require mental and/or physical health evaluations of either party.   School records, physician and other professional reports related to the children can also be obtained during discovery.

Since the truthful disclosure of all assets and information relating to the divorce is vital to reach a fair settlement or to proceed with a trial, if either party attempts to hide assets by withholding information or lying the court can impose punishment in the form of fines, awarding attorney fees to the other side or a default judgment in the most egregious cases.

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