What can I do if I don’t know how much my spouse earns or about the marital finances?

During the marriage, it is common for one spouse to handle most of the financial issues, such as: paying the bills, maintaining retirement or investment accounts, and keeping track of bank accounts. While it may make sense to divide up responsibilities in this way during the marriage, this can cause difficulties in the divorce. In order to properly divide up the marital estate, each spouse must know the value of the property, financial accounts, and debts.

New Jersey provides divorcing spouses with certain legal tools called “discovery” to help them obtain the information they need to fully understand the financial situation of the marriage. These discovery tools are Mandatory Financial Disclosures, Requests for Documents, Requests for Interrogatories, and Depositions.

Mandatory Financial Disclosures are rules which require each spouse to provide the other with certain basic financial documents and information by way of a case Information Statement (CIS) within 20 days after the divorce complaint has been served.

Requests for Documents are a way for one spouse to demand the other to provide them with important documents within 30 days. We will use this request to obtain such documents as:

  • Tax returns;
  • Bank, retirement, and investment account statements;
  • Credit card statements;
  • Loan and mortgage statements;
  • Real estate titles;
  • Automobile and vehicle titles;
  • Scheduling books, calendars, and diaries;
  • Emails and correspondence;
  • Phone call records;
  • Travel records; and
  • Other important documents.

Requests for Interrogatories are a list of up to 30 written questions which the other spouse must answer completely and in writing within 45 days. If the questions are property written, this can be a strong tool to get important answers and information which can change the outcome of the divorce.

During depositions, your spouse must appear at our office and fully answer direct questions under oath. Depositions are usually the last discovery tool to be used since I will use all the documents and information obtained through prior requests to fully question your spouse.

New Jersey provides divorcing spouses with extensive discovery tools which, when properly used, can help you obtain the best possible legal outcome and protect your interests. Unfortunately, discovery is also the one part of a divorce which can greatly increase the costs and fees. As an experienced litigator, I understand how to efficiently and effectively use discovery tools in order to obtain the information we need while still keeping the expenses under control.

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