Q Twelve years ago, before marrying my current husband, we signed a pre-nuptial agreement. This was a second marriage for both of us. We both agreed to waive alimony and to keep everything separate, except that out marital home would divided according to a formula. And, no children were born of our marriage.
I recently filed for divorce and requested enforcement of the agreement. My husband filed a counterclaim which also asked that our agreement be enforced. But we’ve not been able to agree on who owns what percent of the house. So I suggested we use a mediator.
In response his lawyer served me with about six inches of discovery requests including a demand for self-disclosure, interrogatories, a document request, expert interrogatories, a demand for my financial statement, and a notice of my deposition. This is shocking because I believed I could represent myself and we could jointly figure out who gets what percentage of the house.
What am I missing?
A The formula for dividing equity in a house is usually based on the contributions of each party.
So, it makes sense that, at the time of divorce, each party produces their documents proving they paid money for the house, its upkeep, etc. Of course, using a mediator would probably be less expensive and more efficient. But, for reasons unknown to me, your husband’s lawyer choose to file formal demands for documents which, to some extent, he has a right to do.
He is entitled to see all documents – credit card and bank statements, etc. which support your claim for each monetary contribution you made to the purchase, maintenance, upkeep, and expenses of the home. And, vice-versa. Unrelated data can be redacted.
You should know that even in uncontested divorces, the court requires each party provide the other and the court with their respective financial statements. So that request was proper.
But – because he’s not contesting the validity of the agreement – the court should quash his demands for copies of your pay stubs, tax returns, retirement accounts, stock statements, credit applications. The court should also quash any questions more than thirty, and all questions which are irrelevant to money spent on the house.
You letter, asking these questions, demonstrates two things. First, you believe you’ll save money by not hiring an experienced family law lawyer. Second, you fail to grasp that, without that lawyer, you’ll be fighting in the dark without special night-vision glasses while trudging through a mosquitoe-invested marsh which has deep holes leaving you constantly be falling into in a location where your cell phone has no service.
I suggest you hire a lawyer. If not, since the Super Bowl is being played today, you may want to keep in mind something supposedly said – which I’ve gently edited – by Woddy Hayes, a great football coach at Ohio State: “There’s nothing that cleanses your [pocket book and your] soul like getting the [stuffing’s] kicked out of you.”