The most important aspects in a divorce are the marital property settlement and support issues. In order to arrive at a fair level of support and a fair division of marital property and debts, a divorce financial disclosure is needed by both sides. In California the document is called a declaration of disclosure, and the forms used are a declaration of disclosure, income and expense declaration, and a schedule of assets and debts. These documents are usually provided early in the divorce proceedings (preliminary declaration and disclosure) and again toward the middle or end of the proceedings (a final declaration of disclosure), as the parties may not have full information at the beginning of a case, or their financial situations may have changed since they first filed for divorce. The final declaration can be waived by mutual agreement if the parties are confident everything has been disclosed. In any event, once the parties have accurately filled out these divorce financial forms, it is much easier to meaningfully discuss settlement options. For divorce mediation, the negotiations can begin in earnest once the parties are both aware of the community property and separate property issues and incomes. Divorce mediation does involve a certain level of trust between the parties, so it is important to be honest when filling out the financial disclosure forms for divorce. In California, the court retains jurisdiction to divide so called “omitted assets.” So if one party is hiding a community asset and the other party finds out after the divorce is final, they may still be able to get their fair share, or even more, if the court decides to sanction the non-disclosing party. Considering the downside of an omitted asset, and the fact that many couples still need to deal with each other after a divorce, it is a good idea to be fair and honest on the financial disclosures to preserve good will and a working relationship with the other parent.
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