When one spouse in divorce is determined to withhold financial information, it makes the process more contentious, expensive and time-consuming. Fortunately, the law provides several avenues to obtain those records. As discussed in a prior post, How Can You Obtain Financial Records in Divorce?, serving a subpoena is the first step.
A subpoena is a legal request for relevant documents from your spouse or a non-party that holds such information. However, what happens if your spouse or the non-party fails to comply with the subpoena? How can you enforce a subpoena for financial records in divorce?
Subpoenas can be enforced by going to court. You can make a motion to the court to compel your spouse to provide the requested material. The judge will review the subpoena and, if it meets legal requirements, he or she will issue an order for your spouse to deliver the documents. If your spouse fails to comply with the court order, the judge can hold your spouse in contempt and order him or her to pay a fine or go to jail.
You can also make a motion to preclude your spouse from testifying or providing evidence at trial regarding his or her financial status. The purpose of this motion is to prevent the non-producing spouse from suddenly providing financial information at trial that he or she previously withheld to disadvantage you.
You can also subpoena a non-party to obtain financial records. Typically, these include accountants, financial advisors, financial institutions and the like. In some cases, the non-party may refuse to comply with a subpoena. In that case, you can go to court and seek a court order to compel production of the requested documents. If the individual or institution still fails to comply, the judge may hold them in contempt.
While it may be frustrating to have to keep going back to a judge to enforce your rights, it may be necessary. If you are considering a divorce, it is important to work with experienced legal and financial advisors to help ensure you obtain all necessary information to negotiate or litigate a fair result in your case. Contact us for assistance in your matter.