Whether you ultimately decide to settle your case or litigate it and proceed to trial, discovery is important. “Discovery” is the legal term for exchanging information between spouses to ensure complete disclosure of information that is relevant to the case. During this process, all assets, liabilities and income will be identified and valued.
In Massachusetts, the parties to the case must be attentive to the discovery requirements and the obligations required by:
These procedural rules outline the requirements that each party must follow regarding initial discovery, including mandatory initial disclosures to the opposing party. The discovery process can be commenced informally, through requests by counsel, or can be done through formal discovery, which utilizes requests for production, interrogatories, as well as depositions and subpoenas.
Domestic Relations Rule 410 requires that both parties exchange mandatory discovery within forty-five days of service of the Divorce Complaint.
Under Rule 401 there are two types of financial statements that are used by the Probate and Family Court, depending on your gross yearly income. If your salary exceeds $75,000 a year in gross income, you must complete the long form financial statement. If you make under $75,000 a year in gross income, you must complete the short form financial statement.
After mandatory disclosures have been produced by both parties, additional information may be gathered through other discovery methods including, but not limited to:
- Appraisals: A certified appraiser may be called upon to value assets belonging to the parties.
- Depositions: Each party has the opportunity to question the other party or other witnesses under oath before a stenographer who will record the testimony.
- Interrogatories: Each spouse is entitled to serve upon the other spouse questions to be answered under oath and in writing that could lead to discoverable information in the divorce proceeding.
- Requests for the Production of Documents: A party can request the other party to produce documents that are in their possession, custody or control.
- Subpoenas: individuals as well as institutions may be subpoenaed to provide or verify information such as an employer, and a keeper of records from a financial institution.