A Disclosure Guide for Self-Representing Parties

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A Disclosure Guide for Self-Representing Parties

I am self-representing, so do I really have to worry about disclosure rules?

Short answer, yes, you do. If your case is contested, meaning that the parties are not in agreement about how to solve the various issues, then disclosure rules will apply. Don’t be baffled by the term “disclosure” because all it is referring to is documents that you must exchange with the other party. Many of the documents may later be used as evidence, but some of the required documents serve largely to help the parties have the same information to work towards a solution. So, if your family law matter is contested, you will be expected to follow all the disclosure rules. It is now yourjob to learn the rules and operate within them accordingly. This can be daunting as the rules for family law are definitely not what one would call “light reading,” but failing to take this duty seriously can cost you the case and result in a ruling that feels unfair. This outcome is completely avoidable, but you have to take the time to understand and follow the rules.

Disclosure of Documents—the Who, What, and When

This article will take a closer look at the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure,

Rule 49, and Pima County Local Rules, Rule 3.5. As you can imagine, the types of disclosure required vary according to the type of family law case you have. I encourage you to read the rules for yourself, and use the charts below as a quick reference tool. Bear in mind, the charts cover only the baseline requirements for each family law issue and are not meant to be all-inclusive. Each case may require additional disclosure pertinent to your specific circumstances.

To use the charts, first, locate your particular family law issue (found at the top of each chart) and corresponding list of disclosure deadlines and documents. Pay close attention to whether the document listed needs to be filed at the court and disclosed to the other party, or if the document only needs to be disclosed and cannotbe filed with the court.

If you are going through a divorce or paternity matter, you may have a case that involves several of these areas; therefore, you will be responsible for disclosing all documents relevant to that issue. For example, perhaps you have reached an agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse regarding the house, but just can’t seem to agree regarding spousal maintenance, parenting time, and child support. So, you would locate each of these issues on the charts below for a list of the documents you need to gather and provide to the other party by the deadline listed.

For additional guidance with disclosure, review of your documents, or assistance with other case matters please contact, Family Law Legal Consulting, PLLC today at 520-304-1722.

  1. Establishing or Modifying Parenting Time/Legal Decision-Making
Deadline Document to file with the court and mail/deliver to the other party Documents to provide to the other party (if applicable to your case)

DO NOT FILE THESE DOCUMENTS

 

40 days after Response*

 

Or

 

4 court days before the hearing

 

Or

 

2 days after the service of the Order to Appear

o   First Notice of Disclosure**

o   Proposed Parenting Plan

o   Orders of Protection (OOP) and underlying petitions filed to obtain them

o   Name, address, period of treatment if within last 5 years for any of the following—psychiatric, anger management, substance abuse, Domestic Violence

o   Date, description, location, documentation within last 10 years for any—criminal charges or convictions of any party or member of party’s household

o   Date, description, location, documentation within last 10 years for any—DCS investigation or proceeding of any party or member of party’s household

30 days after Initial Disclosure

 

o   Second Notice of Disclosure o   Any new or changed information
 

40 days after Initial Disclosure

 

 

o   Notice of Disclosure of electronically stored information o   Any information in electronic form that required more time to gather in a useable form (for example: years of emails)
 

60 days before scheduled trial or upon court order

 

o   Pre-trial statement*** (joint if possible)

o   Proposed Parenting Plan (if not previously filed)

o   Third Notice of Disclosure

o   Any new or changed information

 

* “40 days after response”—A case begins when a petition is filed and served on the other party (OP). The OP then has 20 days (30 days if served out of state) to respondto the petition. You have 40 days after the date the Response is filed before the first round of disclosure is due. If you file a Petition to Modify (used to change an existing order) instead, a separate document called an Order to Appear, which sets the matter for a hearing, will be sent to the OP. Sometimes the Order to Appear is received or issued close in time to the date scheduled for the hearing, in which case, the subsequent timelines listed apply instead of the 40-day rule.

**“First notice of Disclosure”—A document you file with the court that contains a list of the documents provided to the other party proving you have complied with the disclosure rule. Each subsequent disclosure will require filing a new notice of disclosure, for example, “Second Notice of Disclosure” or “Third Notice of Disclosure.”

***“Pretrial Statement”—This is not necessary in every case. It is only required in cases where a Motion to Set was filed by one party and a Family Law Notice is sent to the parties listing the specific deadlines and hearing dates. Parties are expected to make a good faith effort to file a joint statement meaning the court hopes the parties can complete the form together and submit a single document with both party’s signatures. A blank pre-trial statement is available in the law library at the Superior Court in the “Trial Preparation” packet.

 

Important!!! See also Establishing/Modification of Child Supportbecause any change in the parenting plan will impact Child Support calculations, unless your case is handled in IV-D by the attorney general’s office.

 

  1. Establishing or Modifying Child Support
Deadline Document to file with the court and mail/deliver to the other party Documents to provide to the other party (if applicable to your case)

DO NOT FILE THESE DOCUMENTS

40 days after Response*

Or

 

4 court days before the hearing

 

Or

 

2 days after the service of the Order to Appear

o   Financial affidavit

o   First Notice of Disclosure**

o   Child Support Worksheet

o   Blank financial affidavit

o   Copy of Pima County Local Rule 3.5

o   Proof of income  (all sources)—last three years tax returns, W-2s, 1099s, K-1s and year end info if taxes not yet filed

o   Year-to-date pay stubs, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interests, trust income, business income, annuities, SS benefits, worker’s comp, unemployment, disability, recurring gifts, prizes, spousal maintenance

o   Proof of Child Support actually paid in another case

o   Medical/Dental/Vision ins. premiums paid for any child (Proof from HR or on Pay Stub)

o   Proof of payment for child care expenses

o   Proof of private/special school expenses

o   Parenting time schedule and calculation of time if not essentially equal

 

30 days after Initial Disclosure

o   Second Notice of Disclosure o   Any new or changed information
 

60 days before scheduled trial or upon court order

 

o   Pre-trial statement***  (joint if possible) o   Any new or changed information

 

* “40 days after response”—A case begins when a petition is filed and served on the other party (OP). The OP then has 20 days (30 days if served out of state) to respondto the petition. You have 40 days after the date the Response is filed before the first round of disclosure is due. If you file a Petition to Modify (used to change an existing order) instead, a separate document called an Order to Appear, which sets the matter for a hearing, will be sent to the OP. Sometimes the Order to Appear is received or issued close in time to the date scheduled for the hearing, in which case, the subsequent timelines listed apply instead of the 40-day rule.

**“First notice of Disclosure”— A document you file with the court that contains a list of the documents provided to the other party proving you have complied with the disclosure rule. Each subsequent disclosure will require filing a new notice of disclosure, for example, “Second Notice of Disclosure” or “Third Notice of Disclosure.”

***“Pretrial Statement”—This is not necessary in every case. It is only required in cases where a Motion to Set was filed by one party and a Family Law Notice is sent to the parties listing the specific deadlines and hearing dates. Parties are expected to make a good faith effort to file a joint statement meaning the court hopes the parties can complete the form together and submit a single document with both party’s signatures. A blank pre-trial statement is available in the law library at the Superior Court in the “Trial Preparation” packet.

 

  1. Establishing or Modifying Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)
Deadline Document to file with the court and mail/deliver to the other party Documents to provide to the other party (if applicable to your case)

DO NOT FILE THESE DOCUMENTS

40 days after Response*

Or

 

4 court days before the hearing

 

Or

 

2 days after the service of the Order to Appear

o   Financial affidavit—if modifying existing order and no other affidavit was filed during original case must file one reflecting financial situation at the time of the original order and one reflecting the current financial situation

o   First Notice of Disclosure**

o   Blank financial affidavit

o   Copy of Pima County Local Rule 3.5

o   Proof of income  (all sources)—last three years tax returns, W-2s, 1099s, K-1s and year end info if taxes not yet filed

o   Year-to-date pay stubs, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interests, trust income, business income, annuities, SS benefits, worker’s comp, unemployment, disability, recurring gifts, prizes, spousal maintenance

o   Proof of Child Support and/or Spousal Maintenance actually paid in another case

o   Proof of expenses to support financial affidavit

 

30 days after Initial Disclosure

o   Second Notice of Disclosure o   Any new or changed information
 

60 days before scheduled trial or upon court order

o   Pre-trial statement***  (joint if possible) o   Any new or changed information

 

* “40 days after response”—A case begins when a petition is filed and served on the other party (OP). The OP then has 20 days (30 days if served out of state) to respondto the petition. You have 40 days after the date the Response is filed before the first round of disclosure is due. If you file a Petition to Modify (used to change an existing order) instead, a separate document called an Order to Appear, which sets the matter for a hearing, will be sent to the OP. Sometimes the Order to Appear is received or issued close in time to the date scheduled for the hearing, in which case, the subsequent timelines listed apply instead of the 40-day rule.

**“First notice of Disclosure”— A document you file with the court that contains a list of the documents provided to the other party proving you have complied with the disclosure rule. Each subsequent disclosure will require filing a new notice of disclosure, for example, “Second Notice of Disclosure” or “Third Notice of Disclosure.”

***“Pretrial Statement”— This is not necessary in every case. It is only required in cases where a Motion to Set was filed by one party and a Family Law Notice is sent to the parties listing the specific deadlines and hearing dates. Parties are expected to make a good faith effort to file a joint statement meaning the court hopes the parties can complete the form together and submit a single document with both party’s signatures. A blank pre-trial statement is available in the law library at the Superior Court in the “Trial Preparation” packet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Property Issues
Deadline Document to file with the court and mail/deliver to the other party Documents to provide to the other party (if applicable to your case)

DO NOT FILE THESE DOCUMENTS

 

40 days after Response*

 

 

o   Inventory of Property**

 

o   Financial Affidavit

 

o   First Notice of Disclosure***

o   Blank financial affidavit

o   Copy of Pima County Local Rule 3.5

 

o   Deeds, purchase agreements, escrow docs, settlement sheets, legal descriptions, purchase price and encumbrances

o   6 months prior to time of filing—All monthly bank, checking, savings, brokerage, and account statements

o   Copies of all statements related to pensions, retirement accounts, stock options, annuity balances, IRAs, 401(k)

o   Life insurance statements showing the surrender value, face value, and premiums charged for all

o   Any documents that help set valuation of real or personal property items

o   Business tax returns, profit/loss statements, balance sheets—last 5 years

o   Any trust documents

o   A list of all personal property items (furniture, antiques, artwork, vehicles, jewelry) with estimated current market value (notreplacement value)

 

 

30 days after Initial Disclosure

 

o   Second Notice of Disclosure

o   Resolution Statement****

 

o   Any new or changed information

 

40 days after Initial Disclosure

 

 

o   Notice of Disclosure of electronically stored information

 

 

o   Any information in electronic form that more time was required to gather and provide (for example–multiple years of business documents)

 

60 days before scheduled trial or upon court order

o   Pre-trial statement***** (joint if possible)

o   Third Notice of Disclosure

 

o   Any new or changed information

* “40 days after response”—A case begins when a petition is filed and served on the other party (OP). The OP then has 20 days (30 days if served out of state) to respondto the petition. You have 40 days after the date the response is filed before the first round of disclosure is due.

**Inventory of Property”—A form available at the Superior Court in the law library in the “Trial Preparation” packet that aids in listing all property of the marriage as well as debt. It is required when property or debt division is at issue.

***“First notice of Disclosure”— A document you file with the court that contains a list of the documents provided to the other party proving you have complied with the disclosure rule. Each subsequent disclosure will require filing a new notice of disclosure, for example, “Second Notice of Disclosure” or “Third Notice of Disclosure.”

****“Resolution Statement”—A document that states any agreements reached between the parties and provides a proposed solution for each issue remaining and the facts/law that support that solution.  

***** “Pretrial Statement”— This is not necessary in every case. It is only required in cases where a Motion to Set was filed by one party and a Family Law Notice is sent to the parties listing the specific deadlines and hearing dates. Parties are expected to make a good faith effort to file a joint statement meaning the court hopes the parties can complete the form together and submit a single document with both party’s signatures. A blank pre-trial statement is available in the law library at the Superior Court in the “Trial Preparation” packet.

 

 

 

 

  1. Debt Distribution
Deadline Document to file with the court and mail/deliver to the other party Documents to provide to the other party (if applicable to your case)

DO NOT FILE THESE DOCUMENTS

 

40 days after Response*

 

o   Inventory of Property**

 

o   Financial Affidavit

 

o   First Notice of Disclosure***

 

 

o   Statements for all balances owed and outstanding against real and personal property beginning 11 months before the petition’s filing

o   Credit card statements and debt statements beginning 11 months before the filing.

o   Blank financial affidavit

o   Copy of Pima County Local Rule 3.5

 

o   Deeds, purchase agreements, escrow docs, settlement sheets, legal descriptions, purchase price and encumbrances

o   6 months prior to time of filing—All monthly bank, checking, savings, brokerage, and account statements

o   Copies of all statements related to pensions, retirement accounts, stock options, annuity balances, IRAs, 401(k)

o   Life insurance statements showing the surrender value, face value, and premiums charged for all

o   Any documents that help set valuation of real or personal property items

o   Business tax returns, profit/loss statements, balance sheets—last 5 years

o   Any trust documents

o   A list of all personal property items (furniture, antiques, artwork, vehicles, jewelry) with estimated current market value (notreplacement value)

30 days after Initial Disclosure

 

o   Second Notice of Disclosure

o   Resolution Statement****

 

o   Any new or changed information

 

40 days after Initial Disclosure

 

 

o   Notice of Disclosure of electronically stored information

 

o   Any information in electronic form that more time was required to gather and provide (for example years of business documents)

 

60 days before scheduled trial or upon court order

 

o   Pre-trial statement***** (joint if possible)

o   Third Notice of Disclosure

 

o   Any new or changed information

* “40 days after response”—A case begins when a petition is filed and served on the other party (OP). The OP then has 20 days (30 days if served out of state) to respondto the petition. You have 40 days after the date the response is filed before the first round of disclosure is due.

**Inventory of Property”—A form available at the Superior Court in the law library in the “Trial Preparation” packet that aids in listing all property of the marriage as well as debt. It is required when property or debt division is at issue.

***“First notice of Disclosure”— A document you file with the court that contains a list of the documents provided to the other party proving you have complied with the disclosure rule. Each subsequent disclosure will require filing a new notice of disclosure, for example, “Second Notice of Disclosure” or “Third Notice of Disclosure.”

****“Resolution Statement”—A document that states any agreements reached between the parties and provides a proposed solution for each issue remaining and the facts/law that support that solution.  

***** “Pretrial Statement”— This is not necessary in every case. It is only required in cases where a Motion to Set was filed by one party and a Family Law Notice is sent to the parties listing the specific deadlines and hearing dates. Parties are expected to make a good faith effort to file a joint statement meaning the court hopes the parties can complete the form together and submit a single document with both party’s signatures. A blank pre-trial statement is available in the law library at the Superior Court in the “Trial Preparation” packet.

 

 

 

 

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