Discovery in Connecticut Divorces
Read on to learn what discovery is and what you can expect from discovery in Connecticut divorces.
What is Discovery?
Discovery is the exchange of legal information and known facts of a case. Think of discovery as sharing background information and evidence so that both parties can make informed decisions. For example, imagine negotiating a settlement agreement on property division without knowing all the property owned by both spouses. Or, imagine deciding to move forward to trial without knowing how the business appraiser will testify. That’s why discovery is so important.
Is there Discovery in Every Divorce?
Discovery is traditionally a part of the litigation process. However, information sharing, including the exchange of financial affidavits at a minimum, is also an important component of mediations and collaborative divorces.
How Does Discovery Work in a Connecticut Divorce?
Many divorces start with the financial affidavit and a “Request for Production.” The Request for Production requests particular documents, statements, photos or general information from the other party for a given period of time.
In Connecticut divorces, Connecticut Practice Book §25-32 provides for “mandatory discovery disclosures.” In many cases, those are the documents requested in the Request for Production. Generally speaking, Mandatory Discovery documents provide “backup” for the information contained on the financial affidavit.
Mandatory Divorce Discovery Disclosure Documents
- All federal and state income tax returns filed within the last three years. (Personal returns and returns filed on behalf of any partnership or closely held corporation where you’re a partner or shareholder.)
- IRS forms W-2, 1099 and K-1 within the last three years.
- Pay stubs or other evidence of income for the current year and your last pay stub from the past year.
- Statements for all accounts maintained with any financial institution, including banks, brokers and financial managers, for the past 24 months.
- Most recent statement showing any interest in any Keough, IRA, profit sharing, deferred compensation plan, pension plan, or retirement account.
- Most recent statement regarding any life insurance.
- A summary of your medical insurance policy, coverage and cost of coverage; spousal benefits, and COBRA costs from your employer.
- Any written appraisals you’ve had done of your home or other property.
What About Divorces Where the Mandatory Disclosure Documents Aren’t Enough?
In more complex cases, Requests for Production seek Mandatory Disclosure documents plus additional items tailored to the case.
Discovery techniques beyond the Financial Affidavit and Request for Production may also take place. This could include Depositions, Interrogatories, or Requests for Admission. When a spouse has an ownership interest in a business, which is the case in many high net worth divorces, there may be a business valuation completed.
Read: Depositions & Divorce
What Types of Documents and Information Can You Request in Discovery?
It’s a broad standard for the types of documents and information you can request during expanded discovery.
Under Conn. Practice Book § 13-2:
Discovery shall be permitted if the disclosure sought would be of assistance in the prosecution or defense of the action and if it can be provided by the disclosing party or person with substantially greater facility than it could otherwise be obtained by the party seeking disclosure.
In other words, the information has to assist the action and has to be easier for the requestee to obtain than it would be for the requester to obtain.
Discovery and Legal Fees
As with all aspects of your case, you will want to do a cost-benefit analysis of different discovery tools. This will help determine whether the investment of time and money makes sense in your case. For example, depositions can be quite expensive. There’s your lawyer’s time, the court reporter, the transcript — and don’t forget your own time. That said, depositions can be a very effective, and in some cases efficient, way to obtain information. An experienced divorce attorney can walk you through what discovery tools they recommend in your case including information about the relative cost.
Now that you have learned more about financial affidavits, you may want to learn more about how property division works in Connecticut divorces.
Or, you may want to switch gears and learn about “How Alimony Works in Connecticut Divorces.”
To start making a plan for your divorce, reach out. Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals. We analyze those goals, plus the facts of your case, and present you with recommendations and options to move forward.