Once a couple has filed for divorce, the law requires each spouse to disclose details pertaining to his or her current financial condition. This is known as the “discovery” process and it involves the exchange of information between the separating spouses regarding individual income, assets and debts. In fact, this is a requirement that is mandated under the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure and courts in the state use the information gathered from the discovery process to make sure that property division is equal.
Interestingly, discovery can sometimes be an informal process in which spouses share details pertaining to their individual assets and debts in the presence of their respective divorce attorneys. However, if the separating couple is not willing to share the information voluntarily, there are several formal procedures that can be followed in order to identify the assets and debts.
One of those formal methods is known as “document production” in which the separating spouses are required to produce all documents that can be even remotely related to divorce and the subsequent property division. In addition to property division, the information gathered from this exercise is utilized by Arizona courts to make important decisions regarding alimony, child custody and child support.
A second method of formal discovery involves the use of interrogatories and requests for admission. Interrogatories usually comprise questions that require separating spouses to explain his or her version of facts related to the divorce and provide justification for any and all demands. Requests for admission are less common and require a separating spouse to admit or deny specific facts related to the divorce. Unlike interrogatories, requests for admission can attract penalties for providing false or incorrect information.
A deposition is another method of formal discovery. In this, separating spouses disclose information through sworn statements, which are answers to questions posed by an attorney. According to the law, transcripts of the deposition are retained by the court reporter. This method not only ensures validity of the statements being made during discovery but also provides an opportunity for a practice trial.