During the course of your matrimonial file you will be asked by your lawyer to produce a number of documents. These will include personal documents relating to your finances, including but not limited to bank account statements, credit card statements and other what you could perceive as personal material that you may or may not want your estranged spouse to have access to. In dealing with support issues, document disclosure with respect to income and expenses becomes relevant. Often, innocent omissions with respect to the disclosure of documents can be used by the other side’s lawyer as fodder to allege that you have failed to disclose or are guilty of blameworthy conduct giving rise to retroactive adjustments and corrections with respect to child or spousal support. These are all things that you want to avoid like the plague.
In order to make your lawyer’s job easier, which of course is something we all want to do, and to minimize your legal costs, which is something that you will most definitely want to do, we recommend that you as the client take the steps to collect all of the relevant documents as sought by your lawyer as early in the process as possible. If at all possible, you can organize these documents chronologically, which again will save you time and legal fees and will make your lawyer’s life much earlier (more appropriately your lawyer’s secretary’s life much easier). Full and frank disclosure with respect to the financial assets and financial means of each individual allows a proper resolution of matters either by court order or negotiated settlement.
Initially, your lawyer will likely request that you give us the documents back six months predating date of separation. This practice allows for us to look at a pre-separation pattern of behavior to ensure that there has been no changes post separation. When we request documents of the other side, this is the usual scope of how far back we will ask. There may be circumstances where going back further will be necessary either based on information provided to us by you during the course of our interview process or alternatively, based on what we see in the initial request for documents.
It is important that you discuss disclosure with your lawyer and follow their advice on that issue.