The discovery process is one of the first steps in the process of ending a marriage in New York state. It involves the exchange of financial and other documents that may be relevant as it relates to crafting the terms of a settlement. While this is typically an informal process, the parties involved can choose to adhere to a strict set of rules.

What you might learn during discovery

The purpose of discovery is to learn as much as possible about your spouse’s current financial situation. For instance, you might use bank or brokerage statements to determine how much money this person has or credit card or mortgage statements to ascertain how much he or she owes to lenders. Generally speaking, you have the right to review any document that might be even tangentially related to the divorce.

Information can help you craft a favorable settlement

The more you know about your spouse’s economic standing, the easier it may be to seek alimony or an equitable distribution of assets. It may also be easier to justify a request for financial or other forms of child support. If necessary, you can obtain information from a spouse through a deposition or interrogation.

Don’t try to hide assets or withhold documents

As a general rule, it is in your best interest to be as forthcoming as possible during the divorce process. It may be harder to obtain favorable settlement terms if a judge thinks that you are hiding assets or have taken steps to hinder the free exchange of information. It is also important to be honest with your divorce attorney as doing so can make it easier to adequately represent your interests throughout the legal process.

In most cases, it is easier to navigate the divorce process with the help of a family law attorney. Your attorney might create a legal strategy to maximize your chances of obtaining a larger share of joint assets or other favorable divorce terms.