What's Included in Discovery?

Discovery is the process by which your lawyer obtains information that will allow him to tell you what you're entitled to under the laws of your state. You will also be required to supply information to your spouse. The kind of information that will be exchanged depends on the facts of your case. It could include all kinds of records that address custody, support, or property division. Here are some examples of information you may need to supply or want your spouse to supply:

  • Current employment and income, including bonuses, stock options, and other benefits.

  • Employment history, including past income, bonuses, stock options, and retirement benefits.

  • Business tax returns and other records for several years if either of you are self-employed.

  • Value of businesses if available.

  • Personal tax returns for three to five years.

  • Checks and check registers for three to five years.

  • Credit card statements for three to five years.

  • Documents for all real estate purchased and sold before and during the marriage.

  • Value of real estate.

  • Retirement benefits and assets.

  • Life insurance owned by the parties.

  • Value of special personal property, such as antiques.

  • Value of boats, cars, snowmobiles, and other vehicles.

  • Value of the animals, crops, seed and fertilizer, equipment, etc., if a farm is involved.

  • Monthly expenses claimed by both parties.

  • Mental health and other health histories.

  • Inheritances, gifts, and claims of nonmarital assets.

  • Marriage debts.

  • Not everyone has all the stuff on this list, and not everyone needs to have all this information to make a reasonable settlement. But this will give you some idea of the type of information that might be requested.

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