MN Divorce Discovery: Do You Have to Say It All?
A divorce may mean the end of your marriage, but it also means an end to your joint venture as a married couple. All your assets are to be split, meaning you’ll have to identify all the assets you have both alone and as a married couple through the divorce process.
In a divorce, there is a discovery phase. This is the process where you identify your assets and your liabilities, so that they can be considered by the court and divided in a fair way. This doesn’t mean it’s an equal division, but rather one that the court feels is fair to both parties.
Divorce is not the easiest process in the world, but it’s one where the truth matters. You may be hurt by the divorce and tempted to hide assets so that your spouse can’t access them, but that’s a mistake. Even though you may feel as if your soon-to-be-ex doesn’t deserve anything, you should still disclose it all. Read on to find out why.
Discovery Disclosure in Minnesota Divorce Law
In the state of Minnesota, the parties involved in a divorce have the duty to identify their assets and liabilities in the divorce process. In fact, you are obligated under the law to do so whether or not you are expressly asked about assets or not.
So, even if you’ve had a secret savings account for the entirety of your marriage, you are still required by law to disclose that account in the divorce. It’s still considered marital property, even if your spouse didn’t know of its existence and never contributed to it.
Simply failing to ask about something specific in the divorce disclosure is not grounds to keep it out of the proceedings. Plus, if you are ever asked about something directly, you are obligated to answer the question honestly.
What If You Hide Assets?
If you decide it’s worth it to attempt to hide an asset in your divorce proceedings, and it later comes to light, the court is unlikely to simply give you a pass – even if you claim to have forgotten about it.
Part of the reason you should disclose your assets honestly is that it offers you some protection. If, for example, you don’t list one of your retirement accounts in your assets, because your spouse told you that you could simply keep it, the spouse could come back later and say you were being fraudulent – then the court would give them half of that retirement account.
It’s important to understand that a divorce can be reopened at any time for issues such as fraud or any other reason the court basically sees fit to do so. This can mean more legal fees for you as well as the ire of the court for not disclosing all your assets the first time around. If you are aware of an asset, then the bottom line is: You must disclose it to the court during the discovery phase.
Divorce is a complex process, and it doesn’t always seem fair, but the best thing you can do is to be open and honest with your attorney in the discovery process. That is the best way to secure your rights and protect what is yours. Plus, with an experienced attorney on your side, chances are you can make a great case for keeping what is rightfully yours in the divorce.
About the Author:
A former Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial District in Duluth and former staff attorney for the Indian Legal Assistance Program, Brent R. Olson is an experienced trial lawyer who has appeared in every Courthouse in the Sixth Judicial District and taken over three dozen cases to verdict. At LaCourse, Poole & Envall, Mr. Envall focuses on family law, workers’ compensation, and criminal defense. He has a strong belief in restorative justice and helped to develop the Domestic Violence Restorative Circles program.