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Understand the discovery process before you begin

Deciding to divorce is definitely no small matter. It's a decision you no doubt took quite seriously; in fact, it may be one of the most significant decisions of your lifetime. You may be one of many Pennsylvania spouses who learned early on that yours was not to be a swift and amicable divorce. When you realized that your spouse was determined to make things as difficult as possible, you immediately began to focus on how you can protect your rights and interests.

The discovery process is a legal mechanism that may help you do so. Each state has its own guidelines and laws regarding the process, so you'll want to discuss the topic with someone well-versed in Pennsylvania divorce laws ahead of time. This process can be particularly helpful if you think your spouse is trying to hide assets or otherwise gain the upper-hand in property division proceedings.

This is an equitable property state

As opposed to the nine states that continue to operate under community property division laws in divorce, meaning all martial property is typically split 50/50, Pennsylvania, like most other states, is an equitable division state. The court will decide an equitable, or fair, way to divide your marital assets. The discovery process can help you track down information that your spouse is trying withhold.

Disclosure

The disclosure phase is a basic component of the discovery process. It allows you submit a request for information to which your spouse must be respond in a designated amount of time. The information you seek may include financial details pertaining to bank accounts, investments, personal income or even recent purchases.

Interrogatories

If there is information you have been trying to obtain but your spouse refuses to cooperate, you must be able to issue an official interrogatory document. This is a means of getting your spouse to answer questions regarding specific events. The number of questions you may ask will likely be limited, and, again, your spouse will be granted a certain amount of time in which to submit answers.

Depositions

A deposition is another way to gather information; however, it is unique from the other phases of discovery because it involves sworn testimony that a court reporter transcribes and records. The court may also provide witness statements as part of a formal deposition.

The benefits of discovery

The information you acquire in the discovery process may be your best bet to build a strong case, especially if your spouse is trying to create obstacles and gain the upper-hand at every turn. This process can help you streamline your game plan and may be key to uncovering a hidden asset scheme.

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