Marital property is defined as assets or debts acquired during the marriage. Marital property is subject to equitable distribution between the parties as part of a divorce action. There is a process to acquire information on potential marital property if you are unsure of what assets and debts would comprise marital property in your case. Discovery is the process of obtaining information from the opposing party in the course of a lawsuit. Discovery is allowed in any divorce case which includes a request for equitable distribution or alimony. The information requested in discovery must be relevant to the case. In divorce, the court gives much leeway as to what is relevant since the factors for equitable distribution allow for broadness. As a practical matter however, you will want to focus on assets and debts and their values as of date of marriage, date of separation and present as these are the important dates with respect to valuation.
Formal discovery methods include interrogatories, depositions, production requests, subpoenas to produce documents, and requests for admission. Interrogatories are a written set of questions for the other party to answer under oath. A production request identifies which documents a party is seeking. Subpoenas are utilized as well when it is necessary to get information directly from the source in the instance a party does not have it or will not cooperate in turning it over. Authorizations can be acquired in lieu of a subpoena if a party has not produced the documents themselves but is willing to cooperate in signing the authorization for the opposing party to do the legwork in obtaining the documentation. Due to the expense to the parties for formal discovery, parties often agree to exchange information informally. Consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss the marital property in your case and the best way to obtain the necessary information to effectively handle your case. By April M. Townsend