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Showing posts with label DISCOVERY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DISCOVERY. Show all posts

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Many of us have come to believe that our own attorney was working for the other side. However, when we confronted our attorneys about our suspicions or brought the issue up before the Court, we have been scoffed at and mocked.  

In the letter below, you will see how one litigant, Roisin Cassidy, actually caught out two of her attorneys working in coordination together and with the opposing attorney so that she would lose custody through a scheme that revolved around court rules in regard to discovery.  What the attorneys did was collude with each other in a post judgment custody switching scheme to allow the abusive father discovery, while Ms. Cassidy was prohibited from doing so.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


In the final days before the dissolution of my marriage and the crummy financial agreement I got stuck with my attorney insisted that I get an expert to do a title search regarding the real estate in my case.  That must have cost me around $400.00 or more. 

Before you get pulled into this kind of nonsense consider doing the title search yourself!

All you have to do is look up the land records for the particular town you live on by googling online.  So if you live in Farmville, for instance, you would type Farmville Land Records into the search engine and hit return.  Once you have gotten to the land records for the town you live in, all you then have to do is type your name or your soon to be X's name into the search engine and include the timeframe you are considering. 

Anything and everything related to real estate and your X and you will be listed on the land records.  This means that the title deed to your home, any mortgage documents, release from mortgage documents, liens, will all be there. 

Next, if you click on view next to any particular document, you will see that a copy of the document is available online--most towns have scanned them all into their computers--and you can then print out a copy of your own, all without even leaving your house, or the library, wherever you do you work. 

You can pretty much get good copies of these documents from any town or city in the entire United States wherever you think either you or your X may own real estate.  Doing this yourself saves you the money you might have to spend to have someone do it for you. 

There is another reason why a search of this kind is helpful. Many men siphen money out of the marriage by taking out mortgages without the knowledge of their wives.  In the sixteen years of my marriage, my X took out or attempted to take out as much as one or two mortgages per year.  There is no way to track those mortgages if your X didn't tell you about them except through examining the mortgage documents listed in the land records. 

At least if you review the land records you can find out which mortgage companies your X made applications to and you can find out how much money he borrowed.  Once you have that information you can then subpoena the mortgage companies for the mortgage applications which include even more financial information which could be helpful to you in tracking down hidden assets or simply confirming the accuracy of what you know already. 

Not only can you get the names of the mortgage companies, you can get the names of the lawyers who were involved in the transactions and also the names of the mortgage company representatives, so you have the names of people who could really help you with your inquiries. 

These records generally go back at least two or three decades or more, so you can obtain a substantial amount of information from them.  For those of us whose X's have kept us completely in the dark regarding financial matters, a review of these documents can be truly revelatory.

Friday, April 1, 2011


I have talked about my situation where I ended up with a bunch of lawyers, all of whom despite excellent qualifications turned out to be mighty stupid.  My first stupid alert came with the second attorney who looked at the papers I brought her six months after I filed for divorce and kept on saying, but what about "discovery"? 

Yes, ladies, discovery!  Discovery is the process whereby all of the marital assets are laid on the table so that the parties (i.e. you and your ex) know exactly what there is that you need to divide in your financial agreement which is presented to the judge at the time of dissolution (when your marriage is dissolved).  The big excitment that gets generated around the issue of discovery occurs when one or the other party tries to hide those marital assets and avoid sharing--not a nice thing to do in the divorce sandbox. 

The way to make sure that all the marital assets are out in the open and that there is no hiding is to file a motion called "Motion For Mandatory Disclosure and Production" really early in the divorce.  This document gives the other party 30 days within which to produce the most essential financial documents necessary to determine the total value of your marital assets.  Usually this document has attached to it Schedule A which is a list of what financial documents the other side has to produce.  What is on this list is determined by Practice Book 2011, Section 25-32.  The full contents of this section is as follows:

Sec. 25-32. Mandatory Disclosure and Production(a) Unless otherwise ordered by the judicial authority for good cause shown, upon request by a party involved in an action for dissolution of marriage or civil union, legal separation, annulment or support, or a postjudgment motion for
modification of alimony or support, opposing parties shall exchange the following documents within thirty days of such request:
(1) all federal and state income tax returns filed within the last three years, including personal
returns and returns filed on behalf of any partnershipor closely-held corporation of which a party
is a partner or shareholder;
(2) IRS forms W-2, 1099 and K-1 within the last three years including those for the past year if the
income tax returns for that year have not been prepared;
(3) copies of all pay stubs or other evidence of income for the current year and the last pay stub
from the past year;
(4) statements for all accounts maintained with any financial institution, including banks, brokers
and financial managers, for the past 24 months;
(5) the most recent statement showing any interest in any Keogh, IRA, profit sharing plan,
deferred compensation plan, pension plan, or retirement account;
(6) the most recent statement regarding any insurance on the life of any party;
(7) a summary furnished by the employer of the party’s medical insurance policy, coverage, cost
of coverage, spousal benefits, and COBRA costs following dissolution;
(8) any written appraisal concerning any asset owned by either party.
(b) Such duty to disclose shall continue during the pendency of the action should a party appear.
Copyrighted by the Secretary of the State of the State of Connecticut
This section shall not preclude discovery underany other provisions of these rules.
(P.B. 1998.) (Amended June 29, 1998, to take effect Jan.
1, 1999; amended June 26, 2006, to take effect Jan. 1, 2007.)

There are some important things to note about this list, one of which is section 8 (b) the ongoing duty to disclose.  At any time during the divorce process that the other side stumbles across a document which would complete the requirements in section 25-32 there is an ongoing duty right up to the day of dissolution to disclose that document.  So if your ex provides discovery based upon 25-32 and it is incomplete for some reason, his duty to obtain and submit the documentation to you remains in place right up to the point where you sign your financial agreement and get divorced.  So if it turns out that for any reason the other side was withholding an important document, you have solid grounds to go after your ex for contempt and/or reopen the case. 

Another point to take note of is that discovery in financial accounts goes back a full three years, which is pretty thorough, so make sure that your attorney puts that three years stretch in his Schedule A.  Don't let him give the other side a break and reduce the time frame to one year on a voluntary basis because you have a right to more. 

And remember, a significant number of abusers make plans to divorce you and cheat you many years before they actually file for divorce, so if you think you need to go back further than three years, then go ahead and ask for it.  The other side can object, but 1) they may not object, and 2) if you have reasonable grounds to be concerned, you do have a shot at getting further discovery if you ask a judge. 

Also, keep in mind that when you are asking for statements from bank accounts, that means the full and complete statements, not ones that are missing page 2 or page 4 and those pages happen to have the crucial evidence you are looking for.  Insist on getting everything you have a right to and that includes complete documents.  Check the page numbering to be sure something isn't missing. 

Remember tax returns without the backup documentation are fairly meaningless, so make sure you get the W-2s, the 1099s, and the k-1s as well as the evidence of expenses listed in Schedule C and Schedule E.  Otherwise, the other side can and will (do not be naive) invent stuff. 

Time is of the essence here.  The more delay there is in this process, the more opportunities for your ex to evade and avoid disclosure.  The court supports the delays and aids and abets men in avoiding accountability by continually delaying court dates and extending the divorce process to over a year, sometimes up to two years or more after the initial filing. 

Most Vital:  While discovery is taking place, each time you receive a packet of material in response to discovery requests, itemize what you have received and acknowledge them in a letter to the other side, then include a statement indicating what still remains to be provided.  If the opposing side includes a statement of compliance which has been filed in court, review that statement of compliance for accuracy and if there are any inaccuracies, respond with a motion to court indicating where there are problems.  Never, ever, miss the opportunity to do that because if you don't, they will say, "We gave you a copy of the May 20-- statement (see here our statement of compliance which you did not object to or question!) and now we can't find another one and it will take two months to get a replacement and the trial is tomorrow so too bad for you.  You do not want to be in that situation.  Trust me. 

If you end up having to use force to get the other side to provide financial information always use a subpoena and never use authorizations.  Authorizations are permissions signed by your ex allowing you access to his accounts.  Most financial institutions view authorizations with suspicion and will not comply with them fully. 

Keep in mind that if you find any funny business, hidden assets, a fraudulent financial affidavit, anything, you have four months after the date of dissolution to reopen your case legitimately.  After that, it isn't impossible, but it is much much harder to do.

And finally, If you follow through on these procedures, you will be able to negotiate a fair and equitable financial agreement and put your divorce behind you.  There is nothing worse than finding out six months after dissolution that your ex hid $100,000 from you or something like that. And keep in mind, once your divorce in over, you no longer have a right to any discovery, so get it while you can!

Where I see the situation go wrong in high conflict divorces, it is where litigants and/or their attorneys are careless about the process of discovery which I have described here.  Usually when I talk to people like that I say something like, what about Schedule A, and they have no idea what it is.  Do not be stupid.  Ask about schedule A.  It is here in this blog.  It is in the Practice Book forever, and if you overlook it or miss it, shame on you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Previously, I discussed "Chapter 13:  Discovery" from the 2011 CT Practice Book.  At this point, I want to dig down deeper to the nuts and bolts of the process of obtaining evidence from your ex husband, or the opposing party in your case, however you want to say it. 

The key to getting this process right has to do with being a damn good secretary.  And let me stop here. 

Remember in the good old days of feminism, friends of mine used to say, "I won't learn to type, because then employers will just make me the secretary!" and there was this negative attitude about being a secretary.  Let me tell you how baloney all that talk is.  There are some very high powered basically secretaries called executive assistants who make substantial sums of money and they all know how to type and, what is more important, keep track of things.  You want to be as good as they are!

Maintaining an excellent filing system, keeping track of things, knowing where things are, this is the very core of a lawyer's practice.  If you can't be good secretary, then you can't be a good lawyer, and you sure as heck can't be a good self represented party. 

Begin now to develop these abilities, abilities which outstanding secretaries have known how to exercise for years. 

This is how secretarial skills apply to the practice of discovery.  When you begin discovery, you start out by submitting to the Court a "Motion For Disclosure and Production" in which you request certain documents (or whatever) from your ex husband and you give him 30 days within which to respond.  That's where the keeping track comes up. 

Once that Motion has been sent to the Court, you have to keep track of when the 30 days are up so if it goes to day 31 and you haven't received the documents you requested, you are right on time in going back to court to force your ex husband to reply with your reqest with a Motion to Compel.  In order to delay the process and make your life difficult, but sometimes truly for legitimate reasons, your ex may submit to the Court a "Request For An Extension of Time" asking for up to 30 to 60 days within which to respond to your request for disclosure and production, or else you may have a quick phone call with the lawyer from the other side and come up with an agreement for when the material will be produced, an agreement which you will imediately confirm in writing. 

Ordinarily, these requests for extension of time are automatically granted. Again, under these circumstances, you have to keep track of the time so that if your ex misses the next deadline, you are on track with an immediate Motion to Compel.  Sometimes, you may have more than one Motion for Production and Disclosure out there requesting different material, so you will have to keep track of the progress each one of them is making. 

Sooner or later, your ex will start complying with your requests and start sending in documents.  If he is a jerk, as so many are, these documents will arrive in dribs and drabs over a period of time.  This is done with the intention of annoying you intensely and messing up your efforts to obtain documents necessary to pursue your case, and getting you so mixed up you can't keep track of what you do and do not have.  So don't get too angry when it happens.  It is par for the course. 

Again, this is where your secretarial skills will come in handy.  It is so easy when you are getting documents in by dribs and drabs to lose track of what you have received.  Then when it comes to a really vital document in your case, you could have the opposing attorney say something to you like, "I already sent it to you." and you would have no way of knowing if you didn't make a careful note of everything that comes in from the opposing attorney in response to your Motion.  And if they say they have given it to you, and you have no evidence to the contrary, it can be harder than you think it is to get them to send you another copy.

One valuable bit of support you will have to assist you in keeping track is that when the opposing attorney provides you with the materials you have requested, he or she is required to submit to the Court, copy to you, a document entitled "Plaintiff or Defendant's (depending!) Compliance with Plaintiff or Defendant's (depending!) Motion For Disclosure and Production.  On this Motion your ex is required to list item by item exactly what he has given to you along with the document.  Again, you need to look at the documents that you have been given and check to see that the opposing attorney has truly given you the documents he or she has said were given to you. 

If the opposing side lies and says in the Compliance statement they submitted to the Court that your ex gave you documents you did not receive, you need to respond immediately with a Motion to Sanction the other attorney for the lies he told, and you need to file a Motion to Compel to insist that your ex provide you with the missing documents immediately. 

As you can imagine, with different motions for disclosure and production out there on your behalf, all with varying deadlines and extensions on deadlines, and various compliance statements that have to be verified meticulously, you end up with a lot of detailed work keeping track of what you have received and what you still have to receive. 

If you have a lawyer, this job can cost thousands and thousands of dollars, but if you do it yourself, it is just like preparing your taxes.  Annoying, but necessary, and rewarding when it is done. 

Where you can run into problems with discovery is when you allow the opposing side to pass documents to you informally in Court, or by dumping them on your desk without telling you, or sending it in the mail without a statement of compliance.  If they start to do that kind of thing, then there is ample opportunity later on for saying things like "I gave her the document, but she just doesn't remember." implying you are a nut case. 

Always provide some kind of receipt for anything you receive, copy for you and copy for the other party.  If you are facing opposition from the opposing side and they drag their feet on discovery, you can also send letters as well as Motions to Compel.  Then when the time comes for a Status Conference, you can trot out your Motions to Compel, as well as your letters, indicating you have made reasonable efforts to obtain compliance with your discovery requests, and this will give the judge a good impression. 

Remember, for any attorney, obstructing the process of discovery is a violation of professional ethics, so if you can track that obstruction well and present evidence of it effectively to the Court, you are one step ahead of the game. 

Also, keep in mind that delays in discovery can't be used as the justification for a request for a continuance of the date of trial.  So if you have arrived at the day of trial and the opposing side hasn't given you a vital document, but you have no clear track record of seeking to possess that document, the Court will just laugh at you when you complain.

Make sure no one has a reason to laugh when you enter a courtroom.  Make them afraid, not with swords or guns or a loud bullying voice, but simply with a neatly written list of when and what you received and did not receive and a list of motions and letters you sent in order to correct the problem.  In the Court system, secretaries rule the world.