Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Family Law Procedure

Discovery in a Florida family law case is the process in which parties request documents or other evidence from each other or even third parties in an effort to investigate and prove claims made in the case. The most common type of discovery in a Florida divorce case are financial documents - bank records, income statements, business records, and the like. In the case Hall v. Hall, 5D18-1608 (Fla. 5th DCA June 14, 2019), we see what happens when a third party is subpoenaed for information and an objection is raised by that third party.

The husband sought records from the wife’s medical practice concerning her fractional ownership. The medical practice objected to the husband’s subpoena and requested a protective order. The trial court granted the medical practice’s motion for protective order which prevented the husband from receiving information about the wife’s ownership interest. As a result, the husband appealed by filing a petition for writ of certiorari.

Upon review by the appellate court, it was determined that the trial court was correct in entering the protective order, but it departed from the essential requirements of the law by not ordering production of certain documents. Specifically, the appellate court held, “For purposes of resolving this discovery dispute, we find that none of the circumstances exists that would irrefutably define the value of Wife's interest in BPA by an accountant's determination of the book value of the practice. Wife will continue to be one of the owner/members of BPA even after the marriage is dissolved. If her ownership interest in BPA is a marital asset, its value must be determined and considered by the trial court in its equitable distribution analysis. Thus, information and documents regarding the value of BPA—which in turn may shed light on the value of Wife's ownership interest—is discoverable as those documents may themselves be admissible or lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. See Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.280(b). [. . .] BPA's "book value" does not include the value of the practice's accounts receivable or the value of BPA's good will. BPA's expert admitted that BPA's ‘book value’ was not the same as its fair market value. We agree that Husband is entitled to reasonable discovery from BPA so that he may seek to determine and offer evidence at trial of the value of Wife's ongoing ownership interest in BPA.”

Discovery is an important part of your Florida divorce case. Consult with a Miami divorce attorney to learn more about what discovery is appropriate in your case. A consultation may allow you to form a plan and strategy that is specific to your case.