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What is Discovery in a Tampa, FL Divorce?


The term “discovery” is lawyerly language for the exchange of documents that is necessary for the parties in a divorce proceeding to be fully informed as to all the relevant facts in a divorce case. For example, how would one calculate alimony or child support without knowing the financial information of the party who would be paying? In a Florida divorce, the types of documentation you need to supply are fairly predictable. Documents related to the children include report cards and healthcare information. Financial documents include tax returns, credit card statements, bank account balances, and things of that nature. Divorce for business owners is substantially more complicated when it comes to discovery, but when both spouses work nine-to-five jobs, divorce discovery is usually quite standard.

Mandatory discovery: The financial affidavit 

All Florida divorces require specific information to be exchanged. In Florida, there are two types of financial affidavits. One is for an individual who is earning less than $50,000 a year. The other financial affidavit is for someone who is earning more than $50,000 a year. As you might imagine, the form for an individual who is earning more than $50,000 a year is more complicated than the form for someone who is earning less. You will want to fill out these forms with great care. This discovery document is filed with the court. You will attest under oath that the information you have provided in the financial affidavit is true.

Only in the case of a simplified divorce can you waive the need to file a financial affidavit, and then, simplified divorces are only pursuable under certain circumstances. The vast majority of parties engaged in a divorce will have to fill out a financial affidavit.

Information included in the financial affidavit includes:

  • Federal and state income tax returns, gift tax returns, and intangible personal property tax returns filed over the past three years
  • IRS forms including W-2, 1099, and K-1 for the past year
  • Pay stubs or other evidence of earned income for three months before the filing of the financial affidavit
  • All loan applications and financial statements prepared within 12 months of the filing of the financial affidavit
  • All periodic statements related to checking accounts
  • The most recent statement for any retirement account, profit sharing, deferred compensation, or pension plan
  • The periodic statement of a life insurance policy
  • Corporate partnership and trust tax returns for the previous three years
  • All promissory notes from the past 12 months, all credit card and charge account statements for the past three months
  • Any premarital or marital agreements

As you can see, that’s a lot of information and that is not even an exhaustive list, but a highly-truncated list of Florida’s rules of discovery. You will need to provide a lot of information and to ensure that information is accurate under the penalty of perjury. Luckily, your Florida divorce attorney can help you through the process of filling out your financial affidavit.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Divorce Attorney Today 

Westchase Law, P.A. represents the interests of Florida couples who are seeking to divorce. Call our Tampa, FL family attorneys today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your next steps right away.

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