Divorce typically involves splitting up property, and resolving issues regarding financial support and child custody. In order to properly decide these issues through trial, or to reach a fair settlement outside of court, spouses must first put all their cards on the table. This exchange of information is done through a process known as discovery.
Scope of Discovery
Under Oregon law, a divorcing spouse can request from the other spouse any evidence necessary to prove his claims in court. A spouse may also request all items reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of other relevant evidence. For instance, a request for a home appraisal document would likely be relevant to establishing the value of marital assets during property division. But, a spouse's college transcripts would most likely not be relevant, unless the other spouse could tie it to something to be proven in the divorce, such as establishing a spouse's earning potential in determining an alimony award.
Certain financial disclosures are automatically considered relevant evidence for discovery under Oregon law. This includes state and federal income tax returns, documents showing debts and title to real and personal property, and investment and bank account records. To request this information, a spouse needs only to provide the other spouse with a copy of the applicable Oregon statute, Section 107.089. The other spouse then has 30 days to furnish the information.
All other discovery requests must be made formally by a spouse. One way is by a written "Request to Produce," which asks the other spouse to submit a relevant document or other item in her possession. Another method is by written "Requests to Admit," which ask a spouse to confirm a series of relevant facts, such as how long the parties were married, or when a particular asset was acquired. Either spouse may also request information through oral depositions, which involve asking experts and other witnesses questions in person before trial.
Discovery requests are typically handled between the spouses outside of court. However, if a spouse refuses to comply, the other spouse may ask the judge for a court order. This may be accomplished by filing a written motion to compel with the court. If the judge determines that the information a spouse requested is not relevant, the respondent spouse will not have to comply with the request. If the court finds that the spouse willfully failed to comply with a legitimate request, the court can order both the production of the information and the payment of attorneys fees related to filing the motion.