Throughout the course of any divorce, both parties will be asked to fully disclose their financial information. Known as full financial disclosure, this aspect of a divorce gets many parties in trouble. Here’s what every divorce lawyer should tell you about full disclosure:
Full Disclosure Is Required
Financial disclosure will be required at various stages during the divorce, and failing to divulge all of your assets or debts can land you in hot water. Financial Statements do fall under the pains and penalties of perjury, and must be complete, true and accurate. To be complete, true and accurate, you must disclose all of your assets, liabilities, income and expenses.
Never Withhold Financial Information
Any divorce lawyer will tell you that it is never a good idea to purposefully hide or withhold financial information during a divorce.
Whether a party is simply trying to be deceitful or failed to disclose information accidently, the consequences can be serious. If the judge discovers that a party’s Financial Statements are incomplete, that party may be declared an unreliable witness. If a settlement has already been reached for the case, the judge could void the settlement for fraud, and that asset may then be awarded to the other spouse.
Understand the Information You Need to Disclose
Understanding what information you need to disclose can help ensure that your Financial Statements are complete.
The initial or preliminary financial disclosure will require each spouse to divulge the same information. This includes:
- All expenses
- Income from all sources
- All debts
- All assets
Any items that are jointly owned with your spouse should be included on this list. Personal property should also be listed, including any property that you owned before the marriage and any gifts or inheritance that you received during your marriage.
All of this information is compiled into what’s called a financial affidavit. The affidavit is filed with the court, and the information is exchanged between both parties.
Supporting Documents May Be Required
When creating the financial affidavit, the attorney may require you to provide supporting documents for your financial information. Supporting documents may include:
- Copies of deeds and mortgages
- A copy of the ante- or pre-nuptial agreement, if applicable
- Pay stubs or statements for the previous three months
- Past tax returns – personal and business
- An explanation for any deductions or withholdings, such as garnishments or union dues
- Copies of all statements for: investment accounts, credit cards, bank accounts and retirement accounts
You May Receive Document Requests and Interrogatories
If your spouse or your spouse’s attorney believe that you might be withholding financial information, you may receive interrogatories and document requests – even if you are being 100% truthful.
Interrogatories is a list of questions that you must answer in writing. Along with those questions, you will need to supply the requested documents. The required documents are typically similar to the ones you provided to complete the initial financial affidavit, such as account activity or tax returns.
Always remember that the financial affidavit you complete is a sworn document. By signing it, you swear that the contents of the document are accurate and complete. When it comes time to complete your Financial Statement and the financial affidavit, your attorney will work with you to ensure that you provide all of the necessary information and documentation.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm specializing in family law and estates. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.