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R.I. Divorce and the need for Financial Documents

Rhode Island divorces have many similarities. They all concern the following major issues: children, assets/debts, support, health and life insurance.

Whether a Rhode Island couple employs a mediator to help them negotiate these issues in order to create an agreement or use lawyers to negotiate those terms, the background needs to be explored, often in detail.

As an example, when trying to create a parenting plan, we explore what activities each parent did with a child as this helps to create a plan that uses some past activities to foster stability. If Mom always did the hockey and Dad the wrestling, are there good reasons to change?

As we focus on finances - assets, debts and support - we need documentation supporting the current state of affairs (asset and debt balances and income and expenses) and documentation going back in time to see how the parties developed those balances. In mediation, the parties can agree how far they want to go back while, in litigation, the lawyer may decide how far back to go.

The process of obtaining these records is called DISCOVERY. In litigation, discovery comes in different specific forms. Each side may serve written Interrogatories, which are limited to thirty questions that the other side must answer under oath. These questions can be on any topic - adultery, employment, names of banks and investment companies, real estate, employment history or any other relevant topic. In mediation, either party may ask the other questions during the mediation on any topic. Another tool is known as a Request for Production. The request usually demands written statement and documents concerning credit cards, loans, appraisals, bank/investment account records, trusts, tax returns, pay stubs, travel records, phone records, insurance policies and employer policies concerning health insurance. In mediation, we create an agreed upon list of these items that the parties must bring in and disclose to the other.

The goal, in either process, is to allow each party to have a full disclosure of all the information needed to make a knowledgeable decision concerning the terms of the divorce.

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Law Office of Steven J. Hirsch, Esq

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