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What is discovery and what’s the best way to handle it in my divorce?

by | Sep 22, 2023 | Firm News |

When you’re getting a divorce, you might hear the term “discovery” as it relates to information shared by the parties with each other, including information regarding assets and debts. Simply put, it’s the process that guarantees that everyone has all their cards on the table in a divorce.

You and your spouse will know what shared assets and debts you have, but you might have assets and debts that are just yours, and you both might have assets and debts that each other is not aware of. Since divorce is ideally about splitting all those up fairly, you want to make sure everyone has a complete picture.

In Texas, Rule 192.3 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure covers the scope of the discovery process. It applies to gathering the relevant evidence in a civil case. Records of what assets and debts you do have are necessary in finalizing a divorce.

While you only have to disclose what’s relevant to a case per the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, all of your financial information is likely relevant. If you have certain assets that were acquired before marriage, it’s likely those assets are separate property, and not community property. Therefore, they likely won’t be part of the division of assets in your case. However,  you can’t decide on your own that those assets are not part of discovery as they are not relevant to the case. It is necessary to seek the advice of your attorney when making that decision.

There are obvious assets you’ll want to disclose upfront as part of the discovery process.

Examples of these include your bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, any sort of shared real estate, credit cards, cars and car payments, and student loans all qualify under this.

In a lot of cases, people might undervalue their jewelry, art, furniture, and household assets, and the value of those might add up and make a difference in the overall valuation of the marital estate. Let’s say a couple has purchased a trailer,hot tub, expensive appliance, or expensive tool sets.

Those are all expensive assets that add to the value of what a couple owns as community property, and can trigger surprisingly animated and potentially expensive fights over who gets what assets.

In the collaborative divorce world, there’s a concept of “dividing the orange” used to illustrate how an equal division of a certain asset might not be what both parties ultimately want. In the story, one person wants the juice inside the orange, and the other wants to use the rind for baking purposes.

The idea is that if both parties can communicate what they want and value, they can have a less acrimonious divorce. Additionally, the community estate cannot be divided properly unless both sides have an understanding of the value of it. Once that happens through the discovery process, it’s possible that each party can divide up the assets so each party gets the assets they really want, and both walk away satisfied. But that process can’t happen without both parties being honest about what they have.

If you have questions about the discovery process or any other aspect of divorce, check in with the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance. In our initial consultation, we’ll make sure to determine what’s most important to use in a divorce and go through the options for settling your case.