When filing for a divorce in California, you will be required to disclose financial information which, if not done correctly, can negatively affect any support or property you may be entitled to receive from your marriage.
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California Financial Disclosures
California financial disclosures include your declaration of income and expenses and, your property declaration of disclosure.
Declarations of Disclosure
During your California Divorce, you will have to file Declarations of Disclosure before the court can enter a judgment. There are two types; Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure (PDDs) and Final Declarations of Disclosure (FDDs).
I often find that divorcing parties pay little attention to these documents, their reason being that it is bothersome or intrudes on their personal financial affairs. Unfortunately, a party who does not take the time to carefully prepare these California financial disclosures, often finds their claims for child spousal, spousal support or marital assets severely reduced. Further, incomplete or inaccurate California Financial Disclosures can result in further court actions to include, setting aside a judgment and sanction. California Family Law statutes state that each party must make a full and accurate disclosure of all assets and liabilities in which one or both parties have, or may have an interest in, at the early stages of a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, regardless of the characterization as community or separate, together with a disclosure of all income and expenses of the parties. These documents are referred to a your Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure.
Continuing Duty to Update
Each party is required to make disclosures that are complete and accurate and to file an income and expense statement that reflect the party’s current financial situation. Moreover, each party has a continuing duty to immediately, fully, and accurately update and augment their California financial disclosures to the extent that there have been any material changes so that at the time the parties enter into an agreement for the resolution of any of these issues, or at the time of trial on these issues, each party will have a full and complete knowledge of the underlying facts. In short, not only are you required to make initial disclosure but you are required to notify the other party of any material change in your financial situation.
Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure
Your declaration must be complete and accurate and given to the opposing party. It does not get filed with the Court instead, you must file with the court a declaration stating that you have exchanged this information with the opposing party.
Final Declaration of Disclosure
These documents do not need to be exchanged nor filed with the court if you are proceeding with a default divorce and have entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement with the opposing party. Remember, this does not relieve the Petitioner’s obligation to complete and serve Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure to the defaulting Respondent.
Preliminary Declarations of Disclosures must be filed with the initial petition or shortly thereafter. Final Declarations of Disclosure must be filed no later than 45 days before trial.
Standard of Care
Your Preliminary Declarations of Disclosures must be made with sufficient particularity so a reasonable person of ordinary intelligence is able to ascertain the contents in the disclosure. There is no stated standard for Final Declarations of Disclosure but, any disclosure can be scrutinized as a preliminary disclosure and therefore, the same standard of care would apply.
Contents of Disclosures
In your Preliminary Declarations of Disclosures, you must identify and disclose any and all assets and liabilities regardless of characterization, i.e. any asset or liability that may be classified as either community, quasi-community, or separate property. For your Final Declarations of Disclosure, you must disclose all material facts and relevant information, such as: the characterization of assets and liabilities; the value of assets that are alleged to be community or quasi-community property or, any asset or liability in which there may be a community interest; amounts owed on any alleged community liability; a current income and expense declaration.
You cannot waive the filing of your Preliminary Declarations of Disclosures. Final Declarations of Disclosure can be waived by agreement.
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