Yaffa Family Law Group
By: Doreen Yaffa

What is the Discovery Process in a Divorce?


In the State of Florida, you are required to conduct what is called discovery in divorce proceedings. Financial discovery is conducted by obtaining all your financial and other information and it will then be shared with your spouses attorney. In a Florida divorce, Fla. Fam. Law. R. P. 12.280 outlines the rules and procedures for conducting the discovery process.

This statute requires both you and your spouse to disclose all documents which include tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, insurances, deeds, etc. These documents are called “mandatory disclosure” and the production of these documents are required in all Florida family law proceedings. See  Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure. Mandatory disclosure can be waived in certain circumstances and if you choose to do this, a waiver must be in writing and signed by both parties.

Throughout divorce proceedings and the divorce process, attorneys and the courts use multiple tools in the discovery process to obtain the information they need that is not included in the mandatory disclosure. Fla. Fam. Law. R. P. 12.280 requires both parties to a divorce to fill out what is called a financial affidavit. This document will list all income, expenses, assets, and liabilities that you have, and your spouse will need to fill one out as well. See FAMILY LAW FINANCIAL AFFIDAVIT (SHORT FORM) and FAMILY LAW FINANCIAL AFFIDAVIT (LONG FORM).

This financial affidavit is one of the most important pieces of a divorce. It will be used throughout the divorce proceedings to determine alimony, child support, attorney’s fees, and others. The Florida courts need to be in the best position to understand each party’s monthly income after all expenses and liabilities are taken into account in order to determine the calculations for alimony, child support, attorney’s fees, etc. The affidavit will be sworn to, meaning your signature will be required attesting that all information is true, so filling it out completely and honestly is required.

Other tools used to request or demand further information from the other spouse is through interrogatories. These are a list of written questions that will be sent to your spouse that they are then obligated to answer directly and truthfully. Similarly, request for admissions are also a list of questions sent to your spouse, but these ask them to admit or deny that certain facts are true.

Request for production is another tool used to ask the other party to produce certain documents, including but not limited to, copies of tax returns, investment account information, loan applications, proof of income, etc. Depositions are also a tool used by attorneys to question your spouse or witnesses under oath, to ensure they are receiving the most accurate information needed. Further, subpoenas may also be used as a written command to a third-party individual to appear, produce documents, or answer questions.

As everyone knows, the divorce process is very intricate and can be drawn out. One of those factors is the discovery process as it can be very tedious. That is why it is important to know what you need to collect, how you need to collect it, and what you need to do with each document. Creating a list of your bank accounts, insurances, expenses, assets, and liabilities will help you go through this process easier and quicker.

If you or someone you know is seeking advice on divorce matters, you can speak with one of our family law attorneys at the Yaffa Family Law Group at 561-276-3880 or visit our website at www.yaffafamilylawgroup.com to schedule your confidential complimentary consultation.