September 1, 2008

Statutory discovery – what is it?

“Discovery” is the process of obtaining information about the other side’s case. Divorcing parties have a right to see the other side’s financial cards. There are many formal ways to get the other side’s financial documents. For example, you can ask a records holder to give you documents directly through a subpoena. You can also send out a formal request for production (ORCP 43B). More formal discovery methods can be expensive and take time.

Oregon’s legislature created a discovery shortcut in enacting ORS 107.088 and ORS 107.089. This “statutory discovery request” can be an efficient tool to get basic financial documents from the other side. The statute provides that if you serve a copy of ORS 107.089 on the other party, both sides shall provide the other party copies of the following doucments in thier possession or control:

  • (a) All federal and state income tax returns filed by either party for the last three calendar years;
  • (b) If income tax returns for the last calendar year have not been filed, all W-2 statements, year-end payroll statements, interest and dividend statements and all other records of income earned or received by either party during the last calendar year;
  • (c) All records showing any income earned or received by either party for the current calendar year;
  • (d) All financial statements, statements of net worth and credit card and loan applications prepared by or for either party during the last two calendar years;
  • (e) All documents such as deeds, real estate contracts, appraisals and most recent statements of assessed value relating to real property in which either party has any interest;
  • (f) All documents showing debts of either party, including the most recent statement of any loan, credit line or charge card balance due;
  • (g) Certificates of title or registrations of all automobiles, motor vehicles, boats or other personal property registered in either party‚Äôs name or in which either party has any interest;
  • (h) Documents showing stocks, bonds, secured notes, mutual funds and other investments in which either party has any interest;
  • (i) The most recent statement describing any retirement plan, IRA pension plan, profit-sharing plan, stock option plan or deferred compensation plan in which either party has any interest; and
  • (j) All financial institution or brokerage account records on any account in which either party has had any interest or signing privileges in the past year, whether or not the account is currently open or closed.

The documents requested must be produced within 30 days of service of a copy of the statute. Failure to exchange discovery after serving the statute on the opposing party can have serious consequences.