After a Petition for Divorce (or Dissolution of Marriage as it is called in Missouri) has been filed, the parties can begin the discovery process. “Discovery” is the process by which the parties exchange information and documents to enable the attorneys and parties to prepare for negotiations and/or trial. Discovery can be conducted formally or informally, and it is a useful procedure for ensuring both parties have a complete picture of the marital estate and the finances of both parties.
In a dissolution of marriage proceeding, it is important for a party to disclose his or her income and expenses and all assets and debts. In Missouri, the party will complete a Statement of Marital and Non-Marital Property and Debts and a Statement of Income and Expenses. In Kansas, a party will complete a Domestic Relations Affidavit, that contains the same information all in one form.
Attorneys also have several other discovery options available to gather information and to confirm that the information provided by the other side is accurate. An attorney can serve the other side with interrogatories, which are written questions that must be answered under oath. Attorneys also can send out requests for production of documents, requests for admissions, and subpoenas to third parties to request documents and/or testimony. Either side also has the option of taking a deposition of the other party and any other important witnesses.
While discovery can be time-consuming and stressful, it is an important part of the process that allows both parties to access all of the important, relevant information. The Court has the power to enter sanctions and orders to compel discovery if one side is unreasonably refusing to provide relevant information.
If you have questions or concerns about what information you might be entitled to in a pending divorce, you should consult with an experienced family lawyer to discuss in more detail how discovery works.
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