Discovery is the part of the divorce process when information is gathered regarding marital assets and debts and separate assets. One of the main tools used to gather this information are Interrogatories and Production Requests. Many a client has gasped when they have receive 100 very detailed questions to answer or Production Requests that are pages long asking for a large quantity of documents. When you are served with Interrogatories or Productions Requests, it is best to remain calm. This is a standard part of the divorce process. Many of the questions may not apply to your case as attorneys try to cover every possible question and uncover every possible asset. When answering these questions, it is best to put that you do not have any if it is an asset such as a business that you do not have. If the question asks for records that are accounts in joint names, you also do not have to produce them. You can merely indicate that the other side has equal access to this information. Before you panic, talk to your attorney. He or she can explain to you what you essentially need. In most cases, that will be any and all records that are only in your name or your name with a third party, not your spouse.
When you are getting a divorce, it is important to get an overall financial sense of what you own and what you can expect to receive. Two documents you may want to obtain are your credit report and your statement from Social Security. Your credit report will identify all credit cards or loans that are open in your own name or jointly with your spouse. You want to make sure all of these debts are considered when you divorce. You can obtain a free credit report each year from each of the three carriers. I recommend that you obtain one from each every four months so you can periodically check on your credit and make sure there are no missed payments on the joint accounts and no new surprise accounts. It is simple and fast to obtain this report, simply go to annualcreditreport.com and pick one of the carriers to obtain the report. Then in four months, pick the next carrier, etc. This way, you will have an updated statement every four months for free. You should also have a copy of your Social Security Statement. This is useful in that it provides you with a history of your earnings paid through payroll as well as provide you with the estimate benefit you will receive if you retire, become disabled or if you have a child and something happens to the parent. You can register and download this information at www.ssa.gov and should print this information. Having an earnings history is useful when you go to court on support to show what your history of earnings is.
When parents divorce with children, the children need a schedule when they will spend time with each parent. Courts seem to be moving more towards a shared custody arrangement so that both parents can actively participate in the children's lives. A true 50/50 custody schedule is when both parents have equal overnights in a two week period. This schedule can take many forms, from alternating weeks, to alternating every two weekdays with a long weekend, to three set nights with one parent each week and alternating one night every other week. There are many different ways to arrange it so that each parent has seven nights in a two week period. As in any custody case, it is whatever is in the best interest of the children. When there is a true 50/50 custody schedule, the children are able to attend school in either parent's school district since there is no primary custodian, however, the parties have to decide or the court will decide which school district they will attend.
When parties have an equal custodial arrangement, meaning that they share overnights on an equal basis, seven nights in a two week period with one parent and seven nights with the other, there is still the possibility of a child support order. The party who earns more money will be obligated to pay support. If, however, there is a cost for health insurance, this amount will be factored into the guideline calculation. Any cost for daycare or after school expenses will also be factored into the equation. These costs can be significant and can greatly impact who gets paid and what amount. It is a good idea to always get a rough estimate on child support before going to court over these issues.