What is disclosure in an Arizona family law case and why is it important?

The family law process requires a lot of information. You are basically dividing everything you accumulated during the marriage (bank accounts, savings accounts, debt, real estate, personal property, etc.). This means the divorce process requires a lot of documents.

These documents are essential to properly and effectively litigate your case. Whether it be a divorce or a modification of child support, it is nearly impossible for attorneys to represent you if we do not know the information relevant to your case. It is also nearly impossible for the judge to make a good ruling if they do not know the necessary information.

Because of this, the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure (ARFLP) require that family law litigants exchange relevant documents though the disclosure process.  Rule 49 states that parties to a divorce action must disclose relevant information to each other within 40 days of the date the Respondent filed their Response.

Rule 49 also sets out the information that must be disclosed for different matters and claims. See TABLE 1.  Additionally, Rule 49 requires that litigants disclose certain information about possible witnesses, such as:

  • Names;
  • Addresses;
  • Telephone numbers; and,
  • A statement fairly describing the substance of each witness’s expected testimony

All of this information is summarized in what is known as a Disclosure Statement that is sent along with the documents to the other party/attorney (NOT THE JUDGE).

Finally, Rule 49 charges all litigants  with a “continuing duty” of disclosure. This means that if new, relevant information becomes available or changes at any point during the case, you must disclose that information. It also means that you need to update your disclosure as the case proceeds. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you must update the other party every month as you receive your monthly credit card statements. Rather, it means that if the case is headed toward trial and you last disclosed information 6 months ago, you need to disclose more current information for use at trial.

If a party fails to properly disclose documents, the court may take various actions against them. A party may file a Motion to Compel Disclosure, requesting that the court order the non-compliant party to make disclosures. In addition to ordering the disclosure of certain documents, the court may also: (1) order the non-compliant party to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees; (2) order that the non-compliant party cannot make certain arguments at trial (basically taking away claims); (3) order that the non-compliant party cannot use any non-disclosed information at trial; and, (4) hold a negative inference against the non-compliant party.

So, it is important that you participate effectively in disclosure. Disclosure helps your attorney ensure that everything in the community estate is being properly divided. On the other hand, failing to comply with your disclosure obligations can do serious damage to your case. Please take a look at TABLE 1 below and the documents required for disclosure in certain cases.

TABLE 1 – RULE 49 DISCLOSURE

Type of Case

Required Information

Legal Decision-Making

and Parenting Time

  • A copy of any past or current protective order and underlying petition involving a party or member of the party’s household.
  •  The name and address of each treatment provider and period of treatment involving any party for psychiatric or psychological issues, anger management, substance abuse or domestic violence, for the period beginning five years prior to the filing of the petition.
  • The date, description, location and documentation of any criminal charge against or conviction of any party or member of the party’s household occurring within ten years of the filing of the petition.
  • The date, description, location and documentation of any Department of Child Safety investigation or proceeding involving any party or member of the party’s household occurring within ten years of the filing of the petition
Child Support
  • a fully completed affidavit substantially similar to Form 2, Affidavit of Financial Information;
  • proof of income of the party from all sources, specifically including complete tax returns, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and K-1 forms, for the past two (2) completed calendar years, and year-to-date income information for the current calendar year, including, but not limited to, year-to-date pay stub, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, recurring gifts, prizes, and spousal maintenance;
  • proof of court-ordered child support and spousal maintenance actually paid by the party in any case other than the one in which disclosure is being provided;
  • proof of all medical, dental, and vision insurance premiums paid by the party for any child listed or referenced in the petition;
  • proof of any child care expenses paid by the party for any child listed or referenced in the petition;
  • proof of any expenses paid by the party for private or special schools or other particular education needs of a child listed or referenced in the petition; and
  • proof of any expenses paid by the party for the special needs of a gifted or handicapped child listed or referenced in the petition.
Spousal Maintenance and

Attorneys’ Fees and Costs

  • a fully completed Affidavit of Financial Information;
  • proof of income of the party from all sources, specifically including complete tax returns, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and K-1 forms, for the past two (2) completed calendar years, and year-to-date income information for the current calendar year, including, but not limited to, year-to-date pay stub, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, recurring gifts, prizes, and spousal maintenance;
Property Division
  • copies of all deeds, deeds of trust, purchase agreements, escrow documents, settlement sheets, and all other documents that disclose the ownership, legal description, purchase price and encumbrances of all real property owned by any party;
  • copies of all monthly or periodic bank, checking, savings, brokerage and security account statements and all electronically stored information concerning such accounts in which any party has or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure;
  • Copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing the value of all pension, retirement, stock option (reflecting grant date, vesting, exercise price and prior exercises), and annuity balances, including Individual Retirement Accounts, 401(k) accounts, and all other retirement and employee benefits and accounts in which any party has or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure, and, if a claim for premarital accumulation is made as to a defined contribution plan, copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing values, contributions, withdrawals, loans, earnings and losses from the date of marriage to the date of disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements are available during these time periods, the most recent statements or documents that disclose the information.
  • copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing the cash surrender value, face value, and premiums charged for all life insurance policies in which any party has an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements are available for this time period, the most recent statements or documents that disclose the information;
  • copies of all documents and all electronically stored information that may assist in identifying or valuing any item of real or personal property in which any party has or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition, including any documents that the party may rely upon in placing a value on any item of real or personal property;
  • copies of all business tax returns, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and all documents and all electronically stored information that may assist in identifying or valuing any business or business interest for the last two (2) completed calendar or fiscal years and through the latest available date prior to disclosure with respect to any business or entity in which any party has an interest or had an interest for the period commencing twenty-four (24) months prior to the filing of the petition; and
  • a list of all items of personal property, including, but not limited to, household furniture, furnishings, antiques, artwork, vehicles, jewelry and similar items in which any party has an interest, together with the party’s estimate of current fair market value (not replacement value) for each item.
Division of Debts
  • copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents and all electronically stored information showing the balances owing on all mortgages, notes, liens, and encumbrances outstanding against all real property and personal property in which the party has or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements or electronically stored information are available during this time period, the most recent statements or documents or electronically stored information that disclose the information; and
  • copies of credit card statements and debt statements for all months for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure.
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