The term “disclosure” refers to each litigant’s obligation to exchange certain documents and information with the other parties during litigation. Rule 49 is the specific rule under the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure that provides the minimum disclosure obligations required in each type of family law case. The purpose of disclosure is to make sure that each party to a family law case has access to information and/or evidence that may be material to the contested issues. Pursuant to Rule 49(b), each party should exchange Rule 49 disclosure within 40 days after a response to the petition is filed.
This can be accomplished by sending an Initial Disclosure Statement (sometimes called a “Rule 49 Statement”) to the other party or the party’s attorney, if represented. This form can be used. Disclosure statements are not filed with the court; however, it is important to note that Rule 49 also requires the parties to exchange and file a Resolution Statement. The resolution statement contains a summary of any agreements the parties have reached and their positions for each contested issue.
Rule 49 Disclosure by Issue
What exactly each party is required to disclose depends on the type of case or, more specifically, the issues involved in the case. Subsections (d) through (h) enumerate the specific disclosure requirements for:
(d) legal decision-making and/or parenting time;
(e) child support;
(f) spousal maintenance and attorney’s fees;
(g) property; and
Some cases, usually divorce or legal separation, may involve all of the contested issues listed under Rule 49. Litigants in those cases must exchange all of the documents and information required under each subsection. This can be voluminous, so it is a good idea to prioritize Rule 49 once a family case is filed.
Disclosure of Witnesses
Rule 49 also requires each party to disclose the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witnesses each party intends to call along with a summary of the expected testimony. If a witness is not properly disclosed, the family court may not allow the witness to testify.
Disclosure of Expert Witnesses
Proper disclosure is especially important when parties retain an expert witness. In addition to the normal witness disclosure requirements, Rule 49 requires a party to disclose the content of the expert testimony, the expert’s qualifications, and the name and address for any custodian of reports prepared by the expert.
Continuing Duty to Disclose
Throughout the litigation, additional information may be discovered or positions may change. Section (b)(2) requires litigants to exchange additional or amended disclosures within 30 days whenever new information is discovered. Family law attorneys usually designate each subsequent disclosure statement as “Nth Supplemental Disclosure” (i.e. First, Second, Third, …).
Rule 49 provides only the minimum disclosure required in Arizona family law cases. Parties are free to conduct additional discovery pursuant to Rule 51. At the very least, parties should consider whether to send the applicable Family Law Uniform Interrogatories. For any questions about disclosure, discovery, or any other family law issue, please contact our family law attorneys for a free consultation.