The emotions that go into making the decision to divorce often overwhelm other aspects of a person’s life, and it is normal to think that the rest of the divorce process will be smooth sailing in comparison. However, when you walk into an attorney’s office with the intent of retaining them to handle your divorce case, there is a considerable amount of information they will need before he/she can file a petition with the court. In addition, your spouse may request or the court may order the disclosure of other information, during a period of time termed discovery, in order to facilitate a final divorce decree. Ideally, you walk into the lawyer’s office knowing most of the information, or the very least, where the information can be found. Having this information up front will save time and money in the long run and allow for a more efficient divorce process.
Initial Information Necessary to Divorce
Every divorce petition filed in a Michigan court must include certain information so the court can begin the process of dissolving the legal bonds of the parties. The following is needed by any attorney to file a divorce petition on a client’s behalf:
- any prior court cases involving either spouse;
- identification-related information for both parties, including employers, income, and professional licenses;
- health insurance coverage;
- when and where the parties were married, the date of separation, and whether the wife is currently pregnant;
- the names and ages of any minor children;
- assets and debts of the parties that need to be divided; and
- whether a party is requesting spousal and/or child support.
This information will eventually be used by the court to determine the potential complexity of property division, child support, and child custody decisions.
What Is Discovery and the Types of Information You Have to Reveal
While an attorney will need the information listed above at the front end of a divorce case, some of it will not be disclosed to the other side, until the discovery phase of the process. This is especially true of financial information, which is not always fully known by the other spouse and is crucial to setting child and spousal support and dividing property. Discovery is a period of time set by the court for both parties to gather information ab0ut the other that they intend to use later at trial or for settlement purposes. Much of the information is gathered through the use of interrogatories and at depositions. Interrogatories are a set of written questions submitted by one party to the other that must be truthfully answered and returned within a certain period time. A deposition involves the opposing attorney questioning a party in a presence of court reporter, and the statements made during a deposition can be used as evidence. Also, subpoenas and requests for productions may be used to gather information from financial institutions and employers.
Truthful disclosure of this information is necessary for a fair outcome of both parties, and if it is discovered one spouse attempted to hide assets, a court can punish the spouse through fines, awarding attorney fees to the other side, or entering a default judgment if the behavior is particularly outrageous.
Hire a Divorce Lawyer
Successfully filing for divorce is not as easy as it may appear. Many legal formalities and additional forms must accompany each divorce petition, and if you fail to include any part, your case will be delayed while you attempt to file your petition again. The Clinton Township law firm of Iafrate & Salassa, P.C. understands how hard divorce is and will work to get you the best possible result. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.