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Defeating a Former Spouse’s Request for an Excessive Amount of Financial Information

Divorce and family law litigation can be difficult on multiple levels. It can be emotionally stressful. It can also be draining in terms of time and money. That is especially true if if you are asked to make extensive and intrusive production of information, including sensitive financial documents. Sometimes, there may be ways to persuade the judge that you should not have to make such disclosures. It is important to avoid simply not complying, but instead to go through the proper legal procedures. A knowledgeable Florida family law attorney can help make the arguments you need.

One recent South Florida case that involved family law litigation and document disclosure was the dispute between G.E. and P.E. The spouses co-owned several rental properties. As part of the resolution of the divorce litigation, the spouses agreed to divide those rental properties. The agreement required the husband to use his “best efforts” to remove the wife from the properties he received in the settlement, and also obligated the wife to make similar efforts to remove the husband from the properties she received.

More than two years later, the ex-spouses were back in court. The ex-wife asked the court for an order to enforce the agreement. She alleged that the ex-husband still had not gotten her name removed from the mortgage on one of the properties that he received in the settlement. As part of this legal action, the ex-wife made a demand for the production of extension financial information.

The financial documents the ex-wife sought related to the ex-husband, the ex-husband’s business and the ex-husband’s girlfriend. The ex-wife’s argument was that she was entitled to the information because the settlement agreement required the ex-husband “to use all resources at his disposal to eliminate her liability on the property by satisfying the mortgage.” The discovery requests were meant to find information about whether or not the ex-husband was really making use of all resources.

Of course, satisfying a discovery request like this has the potential to be problematic for many ways for the ex-husband. It can be burdensome, expensive and invasive. It can disrupt your business activities and cause stress within your personal relationships (like the ex-husband’s with his girlfriend). As a result, it is often wise to contest these discovery demands vigorously.

The ex-husband in this case opposed the discovery, and the court of appeal agreed with him. The key to many discovery requests can be timing. Certain types of discovery requests can be improper if they are premature. That was the situation in this litigation. The settlement agreement required the spouses to use “best efforts” to get the other spouse off the mortgage of the properties they received. The trial court concluded that “best efforts” was ambiguous. Until the trial judge made a ruling regarding exactly what “best efforts” meant in this case, there was no way to judge whether or not the extensive document production the ex-wife requested was relevant or irrelevant.

Whether you are seeking or opposing alimony, seeking or opposing child support, or seeking or opposing the disclosure of financial information, experienced counsel can help. Miami family law attorney Sara Saba has been providing reliable advice and strong advocacy for her clients for more than 13 years. Our team is dedicated solely to meeting your family law needs. Contact us online or by calling (305) 450-8009 to schedule your consultation. Hablamos Español.

More blog posts:

The Importance of Strong Legal Counsel in Your Florida Divorce Case, Especially When There’s a Possible Language Issue, Miami Divorce Lawyer Blog, June 22, 2018

Calculating the Marital Portion of Passive Appreciation of Non-Marital Property in a Florida Divorce, Miami Divorce Lawyer Blog, April 16, 2018