If you are seeking a divorce in the greater Atlanta area, you will need to complete the mandatory discovery process. In a divorce case, the discovery process involves gathering evidence and information from the opposing party. In Fulton County, Georgia, an individual who petitions the court for divorce must complete a special type of initial discovery at the beginning of the case. At the beginning of a divorce, both spouses receive a mandatory discovery request for production of documents. You will need to provide your spouse with the completed mandatory discovery documents on time.
When you are seeking a divorce in Atlanta, hiring an experienced attorney is extremely important. At Carter/Pilgrim, our lawyers have an in-depth knowledge of local requirements for divorce, including the rules governing mandatory discovery. We can help you complete the mandatory discovery process accurately and on time. Contact our Atlanta divorce lawyers today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can advocate for you throughout the entire divorce process.
The Mandatory Discovery Process
Fulton County courts require the mandatory discovery process in all divorce cases with one exception: uncontested divorces. Mandatory discovery documents must be completed accurately and submitted on time. You will need to complete these documents under oath, and any mistakes or misrepresentation can be considered perjury and carry serious consequences.
Mandatory discovery includes a set of written questions, called interrogatories, that you need to answer. You will also need to provide the required documents to the other party. Individuals petitioning for divorce must serve the opposing party with mandatory discovery within 30 days of the complaint filing date.
You must submit the mandatory discovery documents to your spouse no later than 48 hours before your 30-Day Status Conference, so time is of the essence after you file the complaint. Fulton County requires spouses to attend a 30-Day Status Conference within 30 days of the divorce complaint submission. The parties and their attorneys need at least 48 hours to review the mandatory discovery answers and documents so conference officers can speak to both parties about the divorce and inform them about what happens next.
Answering Interrogatories During the Discovery Process
Both parties will need to complete an Answers to Interrogatories document. Interrogatories are a series of questions you need to answer under oath. You’ll need to serve your answers to the opposing party within 30 days of the divorce complaint filing. The interrogatory form is made up of several different topics and asks a variety of different questions. The topics covered in the interrogatory include the following:
- Expenses related to your children
- Employment information for the last three years
- Whether any of your children have special needs
- Income from your primary job and any other jobs you do on the side
- How many children live with you in your household from other relationships
- Your current address and other contact information
- Other types of legal actions you anticipate could occur
- Your property interest claims for separate, non-marital property
- Background information
- Any property you own that is currently held by other individuals
- Your insurance information
- Plans for the care of any minor children in your care
- Information regarding your health
- Any agreements you’ve entered into
You will need to ensure that you are completely truthful and factual when you answer the interrogatory questions. You will be completing this legal document while under oath. If you present any inaccurate information, even if you didn’t intend to do so, you could face perjury charges or charges for fraud or misrepresentation. These charges carry serious consequences that can impact you for a lifetime. Taking the time to complete the mandatory interrogatory documents is well worth the effort. At Carter/Pilgrim, we can help you submit accurate and complete information.
Documents You’ll Need to Produce for Mandatory Discovery Process
Along with answering interrogatories, you will also need to complete the Required Documents to be Produced paperwork. This legal document will require you to attach several important documents along with your mandatory discovery paperwork. Typically, you will need to produce the following legal and financial documents:
- Three years of your tax returns
- Your most recent W-2, K-1, and other IRS forms
- Any separation or prenuptial agreements you and your spouse signed
- Evidence of income from all possible sources
- Documents related to your child’s schooling, care, and extracurricular activities
- Documents relating to any business that you own or in which you hold an ownership share
You will also need to provide the most recent statements from all of your liquid fund assets, including 401k, stocks, money market, retirement, and pension accounts. Additionally, you’ll need to provide your last three years of state and federal income tax returns, gift tax returns, and personal and intangible property tax returns. Gathering all of this information can seem overwhelming, but the process of mandatory discovery helps both parties better understand where they stand financially. The mandatory discovery process aims to help both parties create a fair divorce settlement agreement based on accurate and up-to-date information about their financial situation.
Why You Need an Experienced Divorce Lawyer on Your Side
Many people assume that they will be able to finalize their divorce without the help of an attorney, or through an uncontested divorce. However, hiring an attorney to represent your interests is beneficial, whether you are pursuing an uncontested divorce or your divorce will be contested. As you can see from the information above, the divorce process is complicated.
From the very beginning, couples must meet the deadlines for submitting mandatory discovery documents. These documents must be completed accurately and fairly, and having an attorney on your side will help you go through the process smoothly. The lawyers at Carter/Pilgrim have years of experience with Atlanta divorce cases. We will help you understand the mandatory discovery process and ensure that your paperwork complies with the Fulton County court requirements. Contact our Atlanta law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.