Whether you have an equitable distribution, child support or spousal support case, it’s important to have a full financial picture of the marital estate. That way, you know what you are working with when it comes to dividing the marital estate or figuring out how much spousal support or child support is owed.
If you and your spouse are still married, it’s not unusual for one spouse to have more control over the finances than the other. You may not ever have had access to any of the accounts. That’s okay. It’s important to know we can still get the financial information we need even under these circumstances.
That’s true even if your spouse owns a business and you suspect he or she is hiding money.
We often represent dependent spouses. Our firm is experienced at getting the financial information you need to handle your case effectively. Below is a list of steps we can take to make sure we get the full financial picture.
Voluntary Exchange of Documents
Before filing any lawsuits, your attorney may advise you to work out an agreement with your spouse. That doesn’t mean you have to “fly blind” (so to speak) during negotiations. In Wake County, it’s common for attorneys to voluntarily share between 3 to 6 months of financial statements between the parties. This allows the parties to negotiate in good faith. If an agreement is reached, there is usually a clause in the separation agreement that sets out a significant penalty if either party has hidden assets.
Mandatory Exchange of Documents
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Wake County Local Rules
If you file litigation, the Wake County Local Rules will apply to your case. The Local Rules require mandatory disclosure of assets and debts. The list of documents you and your spouse must share with each other is extensive. Even more so if either of you own a business.
If you’re curious what type of documents you will need to turn over, take a look at Rule 11.6 for ED disclosures, Rule 9.2 and 10.3 for spousal support disclosures and Rules 6.2 and 10.2 for child support disclosures. The Certification of Initial Disclosures for Equitable Distribution and Certification of Initial Disclosures for Support cases puts these documents in a checklist format for you.
Despite your spouse sending documents required by the Local Rules, your attorney may advise you to ask for additional information through discovery requests. Discovery is a term used to describe the process by which you can ask the other party to turn over specific evidence. You can send your spouse Requests for Production of Documents, Interrogatories and Request for Admissions and they must answer. Click here to learn more about the discovery process.
Legal Remedies for Non-Compliance
If your spouse is evasive with financial documents, you do have legal remedies. If your spouse does not provide documents as required by the Local Rules, you may file a motion to compel. The same is true if he or she fails to answer your discovery requests. You can ask that attorneys fees be taxed to your spouse for the prosecution of the motion. If the Judge enters an order to compel, the other party must follow it. If he or she does not, you may file a motion to hold your spouse in contempt of court and ask for attorneys fees in that motion as well.
If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, it’s very important to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney to get the advice you need. Please contact our office as soon as possible to set up a consultation.