Proponents of trial divorces may tout the discovery process as a benefit. Generally speaking, this is when the court orders parties to produce financial documents.
Aside from the most acrimonious situations, negotiation often provides a similar function in a more private, more efficient manner. This is particularly true if both parties perform their own investigations.
Mediation in divorce typically involves both parties and their advisors working through a disinterested professional. Each side ideally brings all relevant information regarding marital property to the table.
As explained in Forbes, it is often prudent to perform investigations and collect information before bringing up the issue of divorce. This could prevent someone from various furtive behavior:
- Destroying records
- Hiding documents
- Denying the existence of assets
In the case of hidden assets, it could be up to one spouse to perform investigations to fully inform the conversation. However, it could still be necessary to investigate even if the court ordered a party to submit complete financial evidence.
As explained on FindLaw, one of the first major steps of divorce in a trial setting is the gathering of information. The term for this is “discovery”, and the most unique thing about it is that failure to comply or to accurately disclose financial information could meet with penalties.
Discovery has the potential to be a precise, detailed process. Unfortunately, it is highly likely that anything brought up during this civil procedure would become a matter of public record.
In general, mediation or another alternative method of dispute resolution would be preferable to trial, even in the event one spouse made an attempt to hide assets. Of course, there could be various exceptions: If there was no possibility of communication outside of the formal court setting or if the threat of official penalty was necessary to motivate disclosure, for example.