Consider a divorce to be part breaking up of a relationship and part dissolving of a partnership. For the first part, there is usually a great deal of heartache involved, and even when there isn’t, there are levels of emotion associated with the process. This often clouds people’s judgments, and they are unable to see the second part of this equation, the dissolving of a partnership. Just like any great partnership, when things go sour, the courts — in this case, the family law courts — step in and separate the parties and all their assets. California is a state that subscribes to an equal partnership doctrine, and this is important to note as you are preparing for your day in family law court.
What this essentially means is that the state of California and the family law courts therein are required to treat your marriage like a 50/50 partnership. In other words, most everything that came into your possession, jointly or separately during the marriage, is subject to being divided equally. There are exceptions, but they are very few and include personal gifts and things brought into the marriage before the marriage contract was signed. It is important to catalog your possessions and make sure you request things that have special sentimental value.
When you start divorce proceedings by filing your request for dissolution with the court, you start the process of separating the partnership. In order to determine who gets what, the courts have to know how much the marriage and each of its individual participants is worth. To do this, you are going to be required to fill out and file with the courts a financial disclosure form. This form includes every asset you own, all income you will bring in now or the foreseeable future, and every debt you may have. With all the information supported, two things are going to happen. First, the family law attorney from the opposing side will have an opportunity to review all your documents to verify your claims. Secondly, once the value of everything has been assessed, the judge will separate assets and responsibility based on both you and your spouse’s financial disclosure documents.
Everything you put on the financial disclosure will be examined, and everything included is going to be used to separate your assets and your debts. This makes it a critical document, which also plays a part in alimony and child support decisions. To make sure you have the best shot at protecting your own assets, it is important that you use the financial aspects of a family law attorney’s services to lay out the financial disclosures. We will guide you through the process of writing your financial disclosures and all of the implications that has. We can also prepare you for all of the questions that the family law attorney on the other side will be asking you and how to honestly answer them without compromising your own case.
If so, you are not alone. If the idea of completing financial disclosures is overwhelming, you can always get help from your CPA, accountant or attorney.
If you have gone through a divorce in the past or are going through one now, did you have an easy time filling out your financial disclosures? What was your biggest challenge and how did you solve it? Leave a comment here and help others going through the process.