For whatever reason, a lot of my clients, and I think a lot of divorcing spouses in general, have a hard time with the concept of “full financial disclosure.” Here are the objections I typically receive:
- That information is from prior to the date of separation, so it isn’t relevant now
- My husband/wife already has all this information
- We are splitting everything up on our own terms, so this information is not necessary
Many clients, unfortunately, don’t truly appreciate how important full financial disclosure is. If you fail to provide the information that is requested by your spouse’s attorney, or as required by the rules of the court in your jurisdiction, then you are going to end up costing yourself time and money in the long run.
Here are a couple of reasons why this is the case.
First, if your spouse’s attorney has asked you for documents for a certain time period, there is probably a reason why. They may believe, based on information provided from your spouse, that you are hiding or concealing marital funds. If this is the case, then they are not likely to back down from their request until they have dragged you into court and obtained an order compelling you to produce the documents. Alternatively, they will subpoena the records directly from the financial institution and hold it against you that you did not provide them voluntarily.
Second, if you withhold documents from your lawyer, or if your lawyer has to ask you repeatedly for the same documents, then you are going to start to become a nuisance client to your lawyer. Ultimately, this will also cost you time and money because the lawyer will have to continue to review your file to make sure you have provided everything. Divorce lawyers are fairly busy, and we have lots of fires to put out or control on a daily basis from lots of different clients. The last thing I, or any divorce lawyer, wants to do is to keep pestering a client to turn over documents that have been requested repeatedly.
If you are trying to resolve your case out of court, then turning over the documents requested by your lawyer quickly and in the format they are requested is the easiest way to keep your case moving ahead efficiently and keep yourself out of court.
Documents required for full financial disclosure
Generally speaking, here is a list of the documents we will request of our clients:
- A list of all financial accounts (checking, savings, money market, investment, mutual funds, credit cards, retirement accounts, case value life insurance, etc.) that you have an interest in, the account numbers, the name of the financial institution, and the value as of the date of your separation and the current value.
- 3-5 years worth of statements (prior to the date of separation) for all of the above referenced accounts.
- Tax returns (including W-2’s, 1099’s, etc.) for the past 3-5 years.
- Paystubs or other proof of income for the past 6-12 months.
- Statements for any secured debts you have an interest in (mortgages, car loans, etc.) for 6 months prior to the date of separation to the present.
- A list of all real property (i.e. your home, rental property, vacation property, time shares, etc.) that you own or have an interest in, as well as the deed to the properties.
- Any appraisals or market analysis of real property which you own.
- Information regarding any business interests that you are involved with. Further disclosures may be required with regards to businesses you own.
- A list of personal property and effects, the date of acquisition, and who has current possession of the property (including jewelry, tools, artwork, antiques, etc.).
- Any other documents that are relevant to your financial situation.
In addition, your spouse’s attorney may request documents over and beyond what is in this list. Unless there is a compelling reason to withhold the information requested, I typically recommend that my client’s turn over all requested documents.