I think my husband is hiding money. My lawyer said we had to exchange three years worth of statements when the divorce got started. My husband is not producing any of his bank accounts or his credit card statements. I know for a fact he has two individual bank accounts and an American Express card in his own name. I also know he has a retirement account at Fidelity. When he moved out, he changed his mailing address but I used to see all the statements come in the mail so I know they exist.
His lawyer keeps making all kinds of excuses for him. I’m getting frustrated because I sent my documents on time two months ago. I am tired of paying my lawyer to chase his documents. My lawyer says it will cost me much more to go to court and ask the judge to order him to produce the documents. This just doesn’t seem right — how can he get away with making my legal fees higher?
There are options your lawyer can and should employ. First, the cheaper option is for your lawyer to issue subpoenas to the banks, Fidelity and American Express demanding they produce all documents for all accounts in your husband’s name for whatever time period you may want (you can ask for just the three years covered by self-disclosure or you can go back further if necessary). The cost of drafting and issuing subpoenas is significantly less than a court appearance. Later on, after the documents are produced, your lawyer can ask your husband to reimburse the costs of preparing the subpoenas and the service fees as well as any fees charged by the banks to research and copy the documents being produced.
The other option is for your lawyer to have a discovery conference with opposing counsel and give your husband one last deadline by which to produce the requested documents. This would not include credit cards because they are not part of the initial self-disclosure requirements. If your husband misses the deadline again, your lawyer can file a motion to compel the documents and ask that a discovery master be appointed. Your lawyer can also make a motion for legal fees so you are reimbursed for the costs of preparing the motion and going to court. Even if the judge doesn’t order your husband to pay your fees right now, you can ask again at the time of trial or settlement as part of a final resolution.
As for the discovery master, that would be an independent lawyer who would handle future discovery disputes without the cost of a court appearance. Generally, a discovery master’s fees are shared by the parties in the first instance, but the master has the power to re-apportion his/her fees depending on the conduct of the parties. So, if your husband continues to obfuscate, he will ultimately pay the price for his conduct.