The law in Michigan requires divorcing spouses to disclose real and personal property including any money the party may possess. There are different ways in which you might be required to disclose your assets and your liabilities. You may have to fill out a simple form as required by the Court.
You and your spouse may have to respond to questions posed. This is often referred to interrogatories/ request to produce documents. Interrogatories as a series of questions and may also include a request for you to provide documents. The questions can focus on your financial assets but also your personal matters- like whether you have used a dating app during the marriage.
Another method used to discover assets is depositions. Depositions are essentially meetings whereby you, your spouse or a third- party witness are sworn-in and testimony is taken without a Judge present. The deposition is recorded by a transcriptionist and the testimony serves not only as proof of a person’s statements but also can help in locating assets. In other words, a good attorney will use a deposition as a means of locating assets from a party who is trying to hide them.
Another way of discovering hidden assets is subpoenas. Subpoenas are demands for information made by a party in a lawsuit. The Court and attorneys on the case can issue subpoenas. If a person is representing themselves in a law suit they have to ask the Court to issue the subpoena. Discovery of assets may require subpoenas sent to banks and/or other financial institutions. Failure to disclose an asset is considered fraud in Michigan.
If a person fails to disclose all of their assets and that asset is later discovered the Court can award the other party all of that asset as well as extra legal fees and sanctions due to a failure to disclose. The process of discovering and/or disclosing financial assets and other financial information can be very stressful to clients. When a spouse refuses to cooperate with the disclosure of financial assets, a motion may be brought in Court against them. The Court can than compel the non-disclosing spouse to disclose the information. Where a spouse chronically fails to cooperate with the disclosure process the Court might find the spouse in contempt of court. A contempt finding could result in attorney fees, sanctions and in the most extreme of situations even jail time.
Some parties choose to waive the process of having to make formal disclosures; however, that does not mean that you will be excused from having to disclose your assets in Court. On your final court hearing date, the Court will want to know that the final Judgment of Divorce accurately reflects each spouse’s assets.