When going through a divorce, you and your spouse will be required to complete a preliminary and possibly a final “declaration of disclosure”. Sometimes, the final declaration of disclosure may be waived. At some point during the divorce process (usually very early in the process), at least the preliminary Declaration of Disclosure will need to be prepared by each spouse and exchanged between them.
A declaration of disclosure (whether preliminary or final) is comprised of an asset and debt schedule, an income and expense declaration, and a one-page declaration of disclosure form. The asset and debt schedule is where you each will list ALL of your assets and debts, whether you think the asset or debt is your separate property or community property, and regardless of whether you feel there is no dispute about the property and who will receive it in the divorce. The income and expense declaration you will both need to complete will list your income and expenses as of the time you complete this form. This will be important in the divorce process, particularly in relation to child and spousal support (alimony). Even if you have no children and do not expect to ask for spousal support from your spouse, you will still need to complete this form and exchange it with your spouse.
Over the last number of years, California law has placed a “fiduciary duty” on both spouses to deal with each other fairly, to not take financial advantage of the other, and to fully disclose finances – whether separate or community. In fact, the fiduciary rules are similar to those which apply to business partners. Breaching that duty can result in significant penalties in a divorce, and non-disclosure can actually lead to the other person being awarded 100% of the non-disclosed asset! Also, the forms will be signed by you under penalty of perjury – so these forms need to be accurate.
Correctly completing the documents for your declarations of disclosure should be with consultation of a family law attorney, and Family Law Center attorneys can help you, whether you are going through your divorce in mediation, using the collaborative process, or litigation. A correctly completed declaration of disclosure greatly enhances both of your ability to settle a divorce case quickly, saving both spouses time and money.
Written by Mark Johannessen
For more information contact Mark at Family Law Center