Discovery Process in Massachusetts Divorce

When deciding to pursue a divorce in Massachusetts, certain processes must be completed by each party in an effort to fairly divide marital assets and debts. Financial disclosure procedures play an integral part in the divorce process. The information gathered by disclosures can affect the outcome of a divorce, and according to Massachusetts law, these rules must be followed exactly to ensure each party receives what they are due.

Financial Statement Long Form
If you or your spouse’s salary exceeds $75,000 a year in gross income, you must complete the Financial Statement Long Form. The long form is substantial, and it will take some time to properly fill out. This form will require you to provide proof of income from a variety of sources. For instance you must disclose base salary information including any overtime you preformed, tips you made, bonuses paid, or commissions from sales. In addition, information must be provided regarding self-employment, funds from disability or Welfare, and interest made on investment accounts. The Long Form will also require you to disclose your debts such as business expenses and deductions for household utilities and health insurance.

Financial Statement Short Form
The Short Form is required by the court when you or your spouse makes under $75,000 a year in gross income. The Short form will ask the individual to provide proof of income such as W-2 forms or 1099 forms. The individual must also disclose any additional income such as inheritance or interest on any savings/investment accounts. In additions to income information, the individual must also disclose household expenses which will be subtracted from the gross income.

The 410 Rule
The 410 rule applies to both parties. In the state of Massachusetts, the divorce applicants are required under Rule 410 to disclose all financial information. Financial information that must be disclosed includes bank statements, insurance documents, loan and mortgage information, and insurance information. If the divorce is uncontested, the couple has the opportunity to waive this disclosure rule.

Investigatory Tools for Discovery:

  • Interrogation: Each spouse is entitled to present the opposite spouse with questions to be answered in court which are questions drafted by the questioning spouse’s attorney.
  • Deposition: Each party has the opportunity to present questions during trial regarding their truthfulness about assets and debts.
  • Subpoenas: A variety of institutions and individuals may be subpoenaed to verify information such as an employer, representative from a financial institution, or any other party of interest.
  • Actuaries: These are used to value retirement and other benefits such as pensions.
  • Appraisal: A certified appraiser can be called upon to verify the worth of assets belonging to the couple.
  • Private Investigation: A private investigator may be used to verify information provided by one or the other spouse.

The information discussed in this article are basic guidelines to help you understand Financial disclosure laws in a Massachusetts divorce, however, they are not intended to be a substitute for legal representation.

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