In almost every family law case, it is necessary for both parties to disclose various financial information. The process of financial disclosure can be burdensome, but is unfortunately mandatory. There are several categories of financial documentation that are typically required to be disclosed; the following is a list of the most common:
- Tax returns
- Checking and Savings account statements
- Pay stubs
- Credit Card statements
- Loan applications
- Retirement account statements
There are numerous other items that may be required to be disclosed as well. It is of the utmost importance that you cooperate with your attorney in providing this documentation. Usually, there is a time period of between thirty and forty five days in which a party has to gather together their financial documentation. If one party takes longer than is mandated, it is possible to file a Motion to Compel. This is a motion asking the Court to order the other party to immediately provide the missing documentation. Sanctions can also by ordered by the Court in this context, including an award of attorney’s fees. Therefore, it can be very expensive for a party to drag their feet in providing discovery, as they may be on the hook for the other side’s legal fees if a Motion to Compel is filed and litigated.
A thorough review of the other side’s financial documentation by your attorney can often uncover inconsistencies in stated income or expenses. It can also uncover hidden money, or other items that may not have been discoverable absent the detailed financial records. The goal behind the requirement of open and full financial disclosure is to ensure that each party has a full understanding of the other’s finances, and that no party is hiding or otherwise being untruthful about their financial status.