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Your right to discovery of assets

You and your spouse decide to file for divorce. At the beginning of the process, you're instructed to bring documentation of the assets you control so that the court can decide how they should be divided.

You get there, and you feel like the assets look thinner than they should have been. Maybe the bank account is a lot closer to empty than you were led to believe. Maybe an investment portfolio seems to have disappeared. Either way, you're concerned.

If so, it's important to know that you have a right to discovery. Some people will attempt to keep assets hidden to avoid dividing them. They may lie about what they have, for instance, or "give" assets to a family member until the divorce is over. There are legal ways that you can look into suspicious circumstances, and court orders can even be handed out forcing your significant other to report all assets. If this isn't done, it becomes a crime.

Now, there may also be an explanation. Maybe your spouse lied about the contents of the bank account because he or she felt embarrassed by poor financial decisions. Maybe that investment portfolio really was sold off and he or she simply didn't tell you. Just because things don't look the way you expected doesn't mean your spouse is lying.

However, your right to discovery means you get to dig into the financial history and find out the truth. This is a very important part of the legal process as you work to make sure assets are divided fairly, and you must know how to proceed -- especially when things don't add up.

Source: Livestrong, "What Are My Divorce Rights As a Wife?," J.E. Myers, accessed April 07, 2017

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