Reliance on the creation, transmission and storage of digital information has created another avenue of discovery for a party seeking to assess his or her spouse's financial picture. In New York, matrimonial litigants are entitled to a searching exploration of all financial information concerning the assets of the marriage (bank accounts, business records, real estate holdings, retirement accounts, etc.) as well as the debt obligation incurred by the parties while married, regardless of whether this information be the traditional hard copy version or the computer stored variety.
Today, given the high tech environment we live in, spouses need to be unusually more attentive to the marital finances, especially those which may be stored electronically. The Courts, too, have come to understand the relevance of electronically stored financial data and the importance it can play in the distribution of marital assets and the apportionment of marital debt. For this reason, a recent Appellate Division decision, which adopted the principle expounded in a prior Federal New York Case, Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC (220 FRD 212[SD NY 2003}, held that, "Once a party reasonably anticipates litigation, it must suspend its routine document retention/destruction policy and put in place a 'litigation hold' to ensure the preservation of relevant documents."
Parenthetically, a litigant should be aware that under present New York law, the party seeking discovery bears the financial burden in obtaining the discovery material. However, a litigant may always petition the court for a cost allocation associated with obtaining this discovery at the time of trial.
Electronic Discovery transmission has become more relevant in today's era, with reason, it is critical to be adequately informed and updated to the law pertaining such sensitive material. If you have questions and would like to speak to a Nassau County divorce attorney, call attorney Jane K. Cristal for additional information.