What is Discovery?
The term discovery describes the pretrial process by which the parties “discover” information about each other and the details of the case. Effective January 1, 2020, Michigan Court Rules 2.301 and 2.302(A) require parties to serve initial disclosures. For domestic relations actions (i.e., divorce), this means the parties must serve a Verified Financial Information Form within 28 days of the defendant’s service of initial responsive pleadings, unless otherwise agreed upon in writing by both parties. The purpose of this rule change is to avoid excessive costs and delays traditionally associated with discovery by disclosing the parties’ financial situations “right from the get-go.”
What Information Do I Have to Disclose?
The Domestic Relations Verified Financial Information Form requires you to disclose the following:
- Personal Information – Name, Address, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, and Driver’s License
- Employment Information – Employer name & address, occupation, salary, retirement, and other employment benefits;
- Other Income – Monthly income from all other sources;
- Asset Information – Real property, financial accounts, pension, life insurance, motorized vehicles, and other valuable personal property;
- Debts – Credit cards, personal loans, student financial aid loans, court-ordered financial obligations, and unsecured loans; and
- Miscellaneous – Any additional information regarding assets, debts, business interests, stocks, bonds, anticipated income, and other financially related information.
You must also attach your four most recent paycheck stubs (or a statement from your employer(s) of wages, deductions, and year-to-date earnings) and a copy of your last federal and state income tax returns, including all schedules to this form. If self-employed, you must attach a copy of your three most recent business tax returns and/or corporate returns.
The Verified Financial Information form is not the only form of discovery still allowed. Attorneys are allowed to draft short sets of questions to the other party, take sworn testimony in a deposition or send subpoenas directly to a source for information.
What Happens If I Don’t Comply?
The Michigan Court Rules require both parties, Plaintiff and Defendant, to fill out the Verified Financial Information for “to the best of your information, knowledge, and belief.” If you make a mistake or simply have new information to include, then you have a duty to supplement your response with this new information. Be warned, however, that failure to supplement may be perceived as an effort to hide information and could result in sanctions. Pursuant to Michigan case law, sanctions could include your wife receiving a larger portion, if not all of any asset you try to hide.
We Are Here to Help
At ADAM, we understand that the divorce process can be difficult to navigate. Allow us to help you by calling (248) 356-2326 and speaking with an Attorney today.