One of the most important parts of a divorce is the process of gathering information. Without enough information, it becomes impossible to strive for accuracy and positive results. You may have heard that the gathering of information occurs during the pre-trial “discovery” phase. In the case of collaborative law or a mediated divorce, this discovery process still exists but is more informal. Whatever the case may be, spouses could be asked to provide their exes with all kinds of documents. Is there any legal obligation to provide this information?
The Rules of the Discovery Phase
The most important rule during the discovery phase is simple: You must provide any information that is relevant to your divorce. If your ex requests information that is relevant, you generally must provide it. While there are some exceptions to this rule, spouses may encounter legal penalties for refusing to provide documentation or concealing information altogether.
Examples of Relevant Documentation
What exactly qualifies as “relevant” in the case of a divorce? An obvious example is anything that pertains to financial activities. These financial documents might include:
- Tax returns
- Mortgage statements
- Credit card statements
- Banking statements
- Debt records
- Income records
- Investment records
- Documentation regarding retirement assets
- Financial records of a family business
Of course, a divorce might involve questions outside of property division and other financial matters. The most obvious questions might involve marital misconduct and the overall fitness of a parent. There are many examples of documents that might be useful when answering these questions:
- Medical records related to substance abuse
- Medical records related to suicidal behavior
- Police records (especially related to domestic violence)
- Anything that documents child abuse or neglect
- Threatening emails
- Inappropriate email posts
- Anything that might serve as evidence of infidelity
What Happens if I Refuse to Produce These Documents?
If you refuse to provide relevant documents during the discovery phase, you may be compelled to do so by the court. If it becomes clear that you concealed certain information, you may face a range of legal consequences. It is up to the judge to decide what these consequences will be, but one example is having to pay your ex’s legal fees.
That being said, you may object to requests for certain information if you do not believe that the documents are relevant. In addition, there is some evidence that is never admissible in court. Speak to your attorney to determine whether you can lawfully refuse to provide certain documents.
Where Can I Find an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Georgia?
If you have been searching for an experienced divorce attorney in Georgia, look no further than Lankford & Moore Law. Over the years, we have assisted numerous divorcing spouses in Georgia – and we know how important documentation can be in this process. If you are not sure what kind of documents you need to provide, be sure to book a consultation with us at your earliest convenience. We can guide you through this process and every other step of your divorce.