Obtaining Information in Domestic Relations Proceedings
Are you involved in a divorce or child custody case? You are probably feeling a bit overwhelmed at life events and the legal process. The good news is that you can take charge and seek expert assistance. An experienced divorce and child custody attorney can guide you through the legal process to assist in exploring your options. The legal process can be complex so a knowledgeable guide is important for success. You have one bite at the apple in the court system so make it count.Financial Disclosure
There are various ways to obtain information in domestic relations proceedings. Financial disclosures and discovery are two common ways. For financial disclosure, both parties are required to provide a Sworn Financial Statement (SFS) and certificate of compliance with mandatory disclosures within 42 days after joint filing of a petition or service of process on the non-filing party. A certificate of compliance states what actual documents you provided to the other party. The documents support the numbers listed in the financial statement and are often utilized for verification. The SFS is JDF 1111.
In general, the financial statement covers:
- Monthly income
- Monthly income deductions
- Monthly expenses
- Debt to include names on the account
- Assets - marital and separate
With discovery, you can ask pattern or non-pattern questions of the other party. You can ask up to ten non-pattern questions. You can also make a pattern request for production of documents, and up to ten non-pattern requests. Pattern means that the questions are pre-set. You can locate the pattern questions at JDF XXX. Nonpattern means that you can create the requests based on the unique needs of the case. Discovery requests can be sent after the Initial Status Conference is held. It is also possible to take a deposition, which means that you ask oral questions of the party and a certified reporter makes a transcript of the questions and answers. However, these can be expensive and are not commonly done in domestic relations cases in Colorado.
Tip: If you ask for discovery, the other party may well ask for it too. Discovery can be a time-consuming process and if you do not fully comply, the other party can ask that you be held in contempt of court. Therefore, before propounding discovery consider whether you really need it and whether you are prepared to answer it.
If you suspect that the other party is hiding assets, you are entitled in discovery of the past three years of bank statements and credit card statements. You can review all purchases and expenditures. If you think that there is money in bank accounts, but don't have any evidence, you can subpoena local banks. Subpoenas can be time-consuming and expensive, however you may uncover accounts not disclosed. If you are representing yourself, you have to have the Clerk of Court sign your subpoena. If you have an attorney, the attorney has the ability to issue a subpoena under their own signature. You can pay for a skip trace to locate publicly registered assets, such as motor vehicles. If you think that there is a business entity, you can search the Colorado Secretary of State (SOS) records to locate a business registered in Colorado. The SOS website will let you know the status of the business, i.e. whether it is current or not as well as other information. Other states have registries as well.Witness Disclosure
In addition to financial disclosure, parties must disclose witnesses prior to trial. Trial planning is an entire separate area. However, know that you have to disclose witnesses 63 days and again seven days in advance of trial. Expert witnesses must be disclosed 63 days in advance. These are witnesses with specialized knowledge, such as a vocational evaluator who will testify to the work capacity of a party. The expert also has to produce a report containing everything that they will testify to at trial and that has to be provided to the other party 56 days prior to trial. If the report is not provided, then the expert can not testify to it. Expert witnesses can testify as to option, whereas other witnesses can not.
Note that you have to identify the witness, provide contact information and a summary of what the witness will testify to. Witnesses should be able to testify about something of relevance to the court. Many parties, due to animosity between each other, want to point out the other person's flaws publicly in court. Yet, the court is not interested in mud slinging unless it is related to a legal issue that the court has to decide. The court does not have to listen to what parties want to say if it is not relevant. If you are not providing helpful information to the court, the court will stop you and tell you to move on.
Sample witness disclosure: Jasmine Rotie may testify as to her association with Mother and any observations as to Mother's parenting skills and involvement with the children. Her address is 10 Cliff Court, Colorado Springs, CO, 80903. Her phone number is 123-456-7890.Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs
A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs divorce and family law matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. Give yourself the benefit of hiring one. This allows you to focus on moving on to a better future instead of spending your time attempting to navigate complex legal rules and procedures.
Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law has 24 years of legal experience and protects your best interests and ensures that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 for a free 30-minute informational consultation or complete our online form.