Facing divorce is never easy, even if you know that ending your marriage would be the best option for your current situation. Every divorce is unique, but all divorce cases must cover a few essential factors. Property division is one of the most important, and one of the most contentious. Ending your marriage is not simply terminating your marriage contract, it is also a process of establishing separate property ownership rights for you and your spouse over your shared marital property. To complete property division and other aspects of divorce properly, the divorcing spouses must undergo the financial disclosure process.
You must understand how financial disclosure works, how to prepare for it, and the implications your financial disclosure statement will have on the various aspects of your divorce. One of the best things you can do to prepare for your financial disclosure proceedings is to hire an experienced family law attorney to represent you. No matter what your unique financial situation entails, your attorney can help you save significant amounts of time and money in preparing your financial disclosure statement. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions from people facing divorce and the financial disclosure process.
Q: When Do I Need to Provide My Financial Disclosure Statement?
A: Ideally, you should start working on your financial disclosure documents as soon as you have made the decision to divorce. Your financial records are going to impact several facets of your divorce case, including child support determination, spousal support arrangements, and property division as a whole. The sooner you gather the documents you require, the easier it will be to approach these proceedings with clarity and confidence.
Q: What Does Financial Disclosure Include?
A: Proper financial disclosure requires providing complete and accurate financial records for both your separate property and the marital property you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse share. No matter how you intend to handle your divorce, you must be ready to gather all of your financial records. If you are unsure of which records you need to provide, consult your attorney and they can assist you in building your financial disclosure packet.
Q: What’s the Difference Between Separate and Marital Property?
A: Separate property is anything a spouse owned prior to marriage, gifts they received during the marriage, and inheritance from blood relatives. Marital property is everything the married couple acquired and earned during their marriage. This can include income from both spouses, appreciation of shared investments, jointly owned business assets, and real property purchased jointly. If you have any concerns about whether a particular piece of property or asset qualifies as separate or marital property, your attorney can help you clarify these issues.
Q: Do I Always Get to Keep Separate Property in Divorce?
A: In some cases, separate property is subject to division in divorce proceedings. This typically only applies when one spouse helped the other spouse improve the value of their property. For example, if you owned a home before marriage and your spouse contributed to renovations that significantly increased the property value, the house would likely qualify as marital property in divorce. If you add your spouse as a co-owner of an asset you owned prior to marriage, this will also likely qualify it as marital property.
Q: I Think My Spouse Lied in Their Financial Disclosure. What Should I Do?
A: A financial disclosure statement is a sworn statement provided to the family court. Knowingly omitting pertinent information or otherwise lying in your financial disclosure statement amounts to lying under oath. These activities are almost always uncovered, and the spouse who intentionally withheld financial information is likely to face contempt of court and even criminal prosecution. Depending on the extent of their activities, they may also owe civil damages and legal fees to the other spouse.
Q: How Long Does Property Division Take in Divorce?
A: Every state upholds unique property division laws for divorce. The majority of states enforce equitable distribution laws, but nine U.S. states enforce community property laws. It’s difficult to predict how long property division will take for any given divorce due to the innumerable unique variables that could come into play in any divorce case. Ultimately, the best way to streamline your property division proceedings in divorce is to work closely with your attorney to gather all of the financial disclosure information you need to provide as efficiently as possible.
Q: What Should I Do If I Discover Important Financial Information After Finalizing My Divorce?
A: Modern finances can be incredibly complex, and it’s possible for a divorcing couple to overlook certain assets, old accounts, and other investments in their divorce proceedings. If neither spouse catches such an omission in divorce and one of them later discovers it, they will need to amend their divorce order to reflect this information that should have been addressed in the original case. Depending on the significance of the newly discovered account or asset, the amendment to the divorce order could be substantial.
Q: Why Does Financial Disclosure Matter So Much in Divorce?
A: Financial disclosure is a necessary preliminary step before a divorcing couple can settle various other aspects of their divorce. The couple must provide complete financial records to reach legally enforceable resolutions to various aspects of their divorce, including child support, alimony, and property division. You are more likely to reach an agreeable outcome to your divorce resolution when you provide an honest and accurate financial disclosure statement.
These questions and answers should clarify some aspects of financial disclosure as you prepare for your divorce. Ultimately, there is no “right” way to approach divorce as every case is unique. However, no matter what your divorce may entail or how you and your spouse choose to resolve it, honesty and accuracy in financial disclosure are always essential. This ensures a fair outcome to the financial aspects of your divorce case and minimizes the chances of facing contempt or other penalties. If you are unsure how to prepare for financial disclosure in your divorce case, consult an experienced family law attorney to get the answers you need to your most pressing legal questions.