As a practicing New Jersey divorce attorney, I understand that one of the most crucial aspects is the division of the parties’ assets. In some New Jersey divorce cases, one spouse may have significantly more knowledge than the other as to the couple’s finances and assets. This can leave the other spouse feeling helpless and in the dark when they are going through the divorce process. What can your New Jersey divorce lawyer do about this? Let’s explore.
Fortunately, New Jersey’s Court Rules provide for a discovery period whereby the parties can seek and obtain various information and documents from the other party to help prepare them in the divorce process and so they can determine what they may be entitled to. In certain instances though, this may not be enough to satisfy one party when the other person was in control of the finances or assets. In this case, if you feel that the other party is not being candid, you have the opportunity, through your attorney, to serve a subpoena on a third party if you believe your spouse may have a connection to them or assets with them.
A party in a divorce matter in New Jersey has the right to subpoena a third party or witness for their appearance and testimony at a deposition or at trial and to require them to bring certain documents with them. A subpoena may require the production of books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or other objects designated therein. Pursuant to the New Jersey Court Rules, a subpoena may be issued by an attorney in the name of the clerk. The subpoena must command the person to attend and give testimony at the time and place specified therein. If it is for trial, the notice must be served at least five (5) days before trial and if it is for a deposition the notice must be served at least ten (10) days in advance.
What if you are on the receiving end of a subpoena and you believe that the other party is doing so simply to burden or harass you? There are a few ways to defend against a subpoena that may be issued against you. If a party feels that compliance with the subpoena would be unreasonable or oppressive, they can make a motion to quash or modify the subpoena. “Unreasonable” has been defined as being not guided by reason; irrational or capricious. “Oppression” has been defined as the act or an instance of unjustly exercising authority or power. The burden is on the party seeking to quash the subpoena to prove same. If they cannot, then the court will enforce a party’s compliance with the subpoena and can issue sanctions if someone refuses to comply. One must remember that all relevant evidence is admissible pursuant to the New Jersey Rules of Evidence.
A party should not feel helpless in a divorce case just because their spouse had control of assets or the finances during the marriage. You have a right to full disclosure and a right to discovery during your case. As practicing New Jersey divorce attorneys we can help you get what you are entitled to during your divorce and make sure full disclosure is made. If you need knowledgeable attorneys to help fight for you during this difficult process, do not hesitate to contact our firm to discuss your rights and how we can help you make sure your property and assets are equitable distributed.