Within 45 days after a divorce summons is served, parties must exchange documents under Massachusetts Supplemental Probate Court Rule 410. These documents include three years worth of personal tax returns and schedules, tax returns of personally held corporations or limited partnerships, documentation regarding the availability and nature of health insurance, the party's four most recent pay stubs, three years worth of statements from all bank accounts, statements for three years of stocks and bonds, mortgage applications and financial statements filled out within the last three years, among other documents. These documents often take a while to compile so parties should begin early in the process in order to meet the relevant deadlines.
Within 45 days of the divorce summons being served, parties also have to exchange Financial Statements. In Massachusetts, the parties must use a mandatory court form. There is one form (short form) for parties whose income is less than $75,000.00 a year and another form for parties whose income is more than $75,000.00. Parties should be careful to make sure all financial assets are accounted for on their Financial Statement. Additionally, parties should review their recent bank statements, credit card statements and receipts to make sure their expenses are accurately documented. Also, should circumstances change, financial statements should be updated and resubmitted. A copy of the completed financial statement should be sent to the Court and to the opposing party.
In some cases, parties issue interrogatories (or written questions) to the other party in order to find out certain information. Interrogatories may be used to find out more information about the other party's financial information, expenses, attempts to find additional employment, employment benefits, compensation plans, current health and other information. Interrogatories have the benefit of pinning parties down to a specific answer and give parties a better impression of their case.
Requests for Production of Documents.
Parties may also use formal requests to the opposing party to produce certain documents. Such requests are helpful in gathering additional information regarding a party's financial information, assets and health information. Requests are also used in cases where one party has ownership in a company and the other party attempts to value the business. Asking the right questions and eliciting the most useful information can be invaluable for your case.
Requests for Admissions.
Requests for Admission are rarely used in the family law context. When used correctly, however, they can be very help in eliminating issues prior to trial. Such requests are generally in the form of a statement, which the other party can admit, deny or explain why they are unable to admit or deny. If a divorce case as multiple issues, requests for admission can narrow those which are contested and separate out those which have been resolved or are agreed upon.
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