As an Oregon divorce and child custody attorney, I often find myself explaining to clients their obligation to turn over documents and provide other information to the other party during their case. This formal exchange of information occurs between the filing paperwork with the court and the final resolution of the case and is called discovery. For all civil cases in Oregon, each party can request information from the other party related to the issues in the case. This includes not just information that would be admissible as evidence in court, but also any information that could lead to the discovery of admissible information.
In a divorce, the main issues include property division, debt division, child custody, parenting time, child support, and spousal support. Property refers to real property (a house), personal property (a car or piece of art), business property or business interests, and anything else of value either party brought to the marriage or acquired during the marriage. Therefore, after a divorce proceeding is initiated, each party must turn over to the other all documents related to any property they may have. In addition, bank account and credit card statements, proof of expenses, social media activity, communications between yourself and the other party, and, in some circumstances, medical records are discoverable. Many people feel that their privacy is being invaded by these requests, but it is important to do so to ensure that a fair resolution of your case can be achieved. Further, failure to turn over requested information can get you in trouble with the court, including punitive sanctions. Also, If assets were hidden or omitted during the initial proceedings, the case can be reopened.
On the other hand, in some cases, it will be inappropriate to turn over requested information. Each case is different and therefore different things will be discoverable. If you believe that you are being asked to provide information you don’t think you should have to, it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible to determine your rights.