Request for Production of Documents is a discovery request whereby the party has to provide information that is requested of him or her. The typical thing that the parties are looking for her are bank accounts, retirement accounts, tax returns, paycheck stubs, anything really involving money, finances, wealth, debt, property. Those are the items that one party wants the other to provide in writing.
It’s one thing for someone to put down on a financial statement that he or she has $100,000 in a retirement account and earns $50,000 per year, and it’s another thing to actually see the account, and a statement from that account, showing exactly what goes in, what the balance is, whether or not there are any loans against it, and so forth. You also want to see the actual tax return as opposed to just relying on a financial statement that says somebody makes $100,000 per year.
You can learn from that tax return other forms of income that could be coming into play, as well as other pieces of property that possibly one spouse doesn’t know about. So the purpose is discovery, and it’s good to get it in writing so that you can actually see it, analyze it, and then from there make an estimate or have the knowledge to advise your client on how to negotiate a settlement.
Often, they have standard requests, whereby there are a certain number of questions, a certain number of documents that need to be produced and provided, and it gets sent out almost in the ordinary course of a case. Oftentimes, the discovery is not provided timely. In those cases, your attorney wants to push the issue and try holding the other side in contempt for not complying with the discovery request.
Requests for Production of Documents can be a difficult and time-labor situation, where someone has to acquire all these different accounts, from several different months, including possibly two years of paycheck stubs and two years of bank statements, but it’s an integral part of the discovery process and a very important part, especially in a case where the spouses have kind of kept their finances separately, and where one party really doesn’t know what the other party has.