In a divorce, one of the most difficult aspects to resolve revolves around financial matters within the marriage. For better or worse, money, and financial issues, are one of the leading causes of divorce in this country, which means that during the dissolution process it's bound to make things more difficult for both parties.
While money in and of itself, and determining those assets, are extremely complicated when it comes to most legal matters, for divorce the worst offender is dishonesty. Unlike other common issues during a divorce money can cause a person to dig in, and create a veil of secrecy because of a feeling that they're the sole person entitled to what they earned during a marriage that is now failing. Secret bank accounts, hidden income, and any number of devices are used to keep the true value of a person's income out of their spouse's reach. Hard feelings arise easily when one person feels that their spouse doesn't need to inform the other of something that is theirs alone.
Aside from, but including, worst case scenarios, a Financial Disclosure is a legal attempt to get to the bottom of a person's financial information, so that a fair and equitable dissolution can be reached. Thankfully most divorces aren't so messy that they require a heavy amount of effort in trying to uncover money. Actually, according to the Florida Bar, case law has determined that in some cases Financial Disclosure's aren't even necessary.
But in the cases that it is used, a Financial Disclosure can include some of the following pieces of financial information, but are certainly not limited to them:
- Financial Affidavit - Not to be confused with the Financial Disclosure. In Florida, a Financial Affidavit is only used when a person's gross income is higher than $50,000. This Affidavit includes information about assets, expenses, and investments.
- Personal Income Tax
- Business Tax Return - This refers to a business in which a person has more than a 30% ownership stake.
- Income Documents - Meaning paystubs, or any evidence of income for the past 3 months.
- Real Estate Documents - Often, it's within real estate that large sums of assets may be hidden.
- Bank Accounts
- Retirement Plans - Many spouses don't realize that their retirement plans are part of their assets and can be split equitably.
- Health Insurance - This is important for financial reasons, but additionally if there are children involved in the divorce, health insurance must be provided for the children.
- Personal Debt - While the equitable distribution of assets is the usual concern in a divorce, personal debt is just as important. Unfortunately, this can mean that one spouse takes on the debt that a financially irresponsible spouse has incurred over the course of the marriage.
The process of discovering the facts are half the battle. A thorough and experienced attorney will make sure to cover all these topics, and more, and determine what should be included in a person's Financial Disclosure. The decisions made in this process can make the difference between a fair divorce, and one that requires further litigation.
VilarLaw has been practicing family law for the last 20 years. When going through proceedings of receiving a spouse's financial information for the purpose of dissolving a marriage, VilarLaw's experience is invaluable to quickly uncovering assets and income, and insuring that they are split fairly among the divorcing parties. Contact the VilarLaw Offices at (305)373-8000, to schedule a consultation.Sources: