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What Must You Disclose In Family Law

Family Law discovery and disclosure

Unfortunately, in many cases, a divorce can turn adversarial between spouses. When this happens, mediation typically is not a viable option. Because spouses often hide important financial or personal information from each other, some divorces require that spouses submit to the disclosure and discovery process. This legal process, governed by Arizona Revised Statutes 49-65, indicates that if the spouses enter into the discovery process they are bound by certain legal requirements. Visiting with an experienced divorce attorney can ensure that your legal rights remain protected and that you comply with the entire disclosure and discovery process.

Understanding the Discovery Process in Divorce

There are many reasons that a spouse may request discovery in a divorce. In some cases, a spouse appears to have either hidden money, assets, or property. In other cases, a spouse may have frittered away marital assets through gambling or other activities indicative of marital waste. In order to equitably divide marital property, there must be a full accounting of the marital property which requires both parties to fully disclose all financial assets.

While the discovery process is important for financial reasons, there are other reasons that may prove critical for child visitation and child custody purposes. The discovery process will allow a spouse to learn if the other spouse has any protective orders, psychological treatment providers, or even a full criminal history. The discovery process can prove invaluable in order for a spouse to ensure that their legal and financial rights remain protected.

Rule 49 Disclosures

An experienced divorce lawyer will be able to help their client understand all of these parts of a discovery request, and ensure that not only their client complies with the law, but also provide guidance regarding how best to use the information that their client receives from their spouse to help protect their legal and financial rights. The Arizona Revised Statute Rule 49 disclosures may require that a spouse provide all, or some, of the following information.

  • Protective orders
  • Treatment providers for any psychiatric or psychological issues, anger management issues, substance abuse issues, or domestic violence or abuse issues for the period beginning five years prior to the filing of the petition
  • Criminal history of a spouse, or any other household members within the prior ten years of the filing of the petition
  • Child protective service reports within the prior ten years of filing of the petition
  • Child support payment history
  • Affidavit of Financial Information (AFI)
  • Property disclosure (including deeds, titles, bank statements for all financial accounts, investment statements, insurance payout history, evidence of property value for all real estate or properties, business records and business accounts, a listing of personal property, any other property or asset disclosure)
  • Credit card statements
  • Loan documents
  • Balances on any outstanding debts

Financial Disclosure in the Discovery Process

In many cases, the financial disclosure portion of the discovery process proves critical to appropriately divide the marital assets equitably. Because this area is so often contested, the following list will better help you understand the exact documents that will need to be submitted as part of the financial disclosure portion of the discovery documents:

  • Proof of income (W-2 forms, K-1 forms, 1099 forms, year-to-date pay stub, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, recurring gifts, prizes, and spousal maintenance);
  • Proof of court-ordered child support and spousal maintenance actually paid by the party in any case other than the one in which disclosure is being provided;
  • Proof of all medical, dental, and vision insurance premiums paid by the party for any child listed or referenced in the petition;
  • Proof of any child care expenses paid by the party for any child listed or referenced in the petition;
  • Proof of any expenses paid by the party for private or special schools or other particular education needs of a child listed or referenced in the petition; and
  • Proof of any expenses paid by the party for the special needs of a gifted or handicapped child listed or referenced in the petition
  • Copies of all deeds, deeds of trust, purchase agreements, escrow documents, settlement sheets, and all other documents that disclose the ownership, legal description, purchase price, and encumbrances of all real property owned by any party;
  • Copies of all monthly or periodic bank, checking, savings, brokerage and security account statements and all electronically stored information concerning such accounts in which any party has or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure;
  • Copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing the value of all pension, retirement, stock option (reflecting grant date, vesting, exercise price, and prior exercises), and annuity balances, including Individual Retirement Accounts, 401(k) accounts, and all other retirement and employee benefits and accounts in which any party has or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure, and, if a claim for premarital accumulation is made as to a defined contribution plan, copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing values, contributions, withdrawals, loans, earnings and losses from the date of marriage to the date of disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements are available during these time periods, the most recent statements or documents that disclose the information.
  • Copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing the cash surrender value, face value, and premiums charged for all life insurance policies in which any party has an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements are available for this time period, the most recent statements or documents that disclose the information;
  • Copies of all documents and all electronically stored information that may assist in identifying or valuing any item of real or personal property in which any party has or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition, including any documents that the party may rely upon in placing a value on any item of real or personal property;
  • Copies of all business tax returns, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and all documents and all electronically stored information that may assist in identifying or valuing any business or business interest for the last two (2) completed calendar or fiscal years and through the latest available date prior to disclosure with respect to any business or entity in which any party has an interest or had an interest for the period commencing twenty-four (24) months prior to the filing of the petition; and
  • A listing of all items of personal property, including, but not limited to, household furniture, furnishings, antiques, artwork, vehicles, jewelry and similar items in which any party has an interest, together with the party’s estimate of current fair market value (not replacement value) for each item.
  • Copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents and all electronically stored information showing the balances owing on all mortgages, notes, liens, and encumbrances outstanding against all real property and personal property in which the party has or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements or electronically stored information are available during this time period, the most recent statements or documents or electronically stored information that disclose the information;
  • Copies of credit card statements and debt statements for all months for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney Regarding the Disclosure and Discovery Process in Arizona

If you are facing a contested divorce, and one in which you believe that the discovery process will prove critical to receive the marital assets to which you are legally entitled, visiting with an experienced divorce attorney can help you better understand both your legal and financial rights. Without proper legal representation, you may miss key opportunities to receive critical information from your spouse that will lead you a more stable financial future for you and your children. Additionally, if you are part of a discovery process, failing to fully comply with the disclosures required by law can place you at a serious disadvantage or even result in serious legal charges. Contact one of our experienced family law attorneys at My Modern Law in Scottsdale, Mesa, Peoria, or Phoenix, Arizona who can provide you with answers and ensure you receive the best possible legal advice regarding the disclosure and discovery process in divorce. Contact us at (480) 470-7731 or online today.