In most family law matters, the court requires each party to disclose his or her financial circumstances to the other party via a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit (DRFA). A DRFA is a form that looks similar to a budget, and each party is required to list his or her monthly income and expenses and also any assets and debts they hold. Although the DRFA serves as a good starting point to determine the extent of each parties assets and debts in a divorce, it is often necessary for parties to exchange account records and statements in order to facilitate the parties coming to a full and fair settlement. However, what happens in the event when one party refuses to cooperate in turning over or exchanging retirement account records or other materials documenting the value of their assets?
In such a situation, there are two paths that may be taken to obtain the needed documents:
- Requests for Production of Documents - Requests for the production of documents are a tool available to litigants in Georgia who seek to obtain documents from the opposing party in litigation. O.C.G.A. § 9-11-34 (a). Requests for production may generally be served on the opposing party in a divorce matter at any time after the action has been initiated. Once a party has been served with these requests, he or she has 30 days to respond. If a party fails to respond to a discovery request, the requesting party may "move for an order compelling an answer, or a designation, or an order compelling inspection in accordance with the request." O.C.G.A. § 9-11-37(a)(2). If the motion is granted, the party whose conduct necessitated the motion, or her attorney, may be ordered by the court to pay the moving party the reasonable expenses she incurred in obtaining the order, including attorney's fees. O.C.G.A. § 9-11-31(a)(4)(a).
- Third-Party Requests for Production of Documents - Not only may requests for production be served on the opposing party in a divorce matter, but requests for production of documents may also be served on third parties in Georgia. An example of third parties that a party to a divorce may want to serve with requests for production include a spouse's employer or the bank or financial institution that holds that spouse's bank or retirement accounts. Similar to requests served on a party to the divorce case, a third party may also be subject to sanctions if that third party unreasonably refuses to comply with the request or the court's order to provide certain documents.