IF YOU ARE considering divorce, you’ll need to start thinking about the documents you will need to gather to be in compliance with Florida’s “mandatory disclosure” requirement. In Florida, the courts requires each party to a divorce to fully disclose his or her financial information to the another. Many people are confused by this and ask: “But we’ve been married for years and sharing finances, so we both know what we make and what we spend. Why do we need to each file the same documents?”
That may seem like the case, but in many marriages, one party or the other may have some financial information about which the other party does not know, or does not fully understand. For example, one spouse may know the other has a retirement plan through his or her work, but not know exactly how much has accumulated. Or, one party may have been responsible for keeping the family financial records, balancing the checkbook, paying the bills, etc. and the other party may not be sure about the exact state of the family finances. It’s not unheard of for one party to have investments about which the other party has no knowledge (like owning real estate in another country).
In some cases, couples have been separated for some time before they decide to legally divorce, so their financial circumstances are not the same as they were when the parties were living together. Sometimes, after the separation, one party gets a new job, or the other has a new relationship. Sometimes, the parties just disagree about their finances. There are many, many circumstances which could affect both parties’ full awareness and understanding of each other’s financial situation.
To ensure all parties involved have a full and complete picture of the family finances, the law requires each party to disclose their version of the finances to the other. The operative word is “requires.” This disclosure is mandatory under the law, not optional.
So, what kinds of information are you required to disclose by law? Here are some of the records you should start gathering in preparation:
1. Name and address of your employer(s).
2. How much you are paid and how often you are paid.
3. If you are retired or anticipate retirement, the name and address of your last employer and the date of your retirement.
4. Last year’s annual gross income and the other party’s annual gross income if you know it.
5. Your current monthly gross income (the financial affidavit form requires you to provide a breakdown of all income and deductions to your net monthly income can be determined).
6. Average monthly expenses (like rent or mortgage, electricity, water/sewer, cable, car payments, insurances etc.)
7. Monthly expenses for children shared by the parties (this could be anything from school tuition to monthly allowances to day care).
8. Monthly expenses for other children (like child support).
9. Monthly payments on credit cards and other loans.
10. Assets and liabilities [for example, your house (an asset) and the mortgage on your house (a liability)].
11. Contingent assets and liabilities (an anticipated inheritance, for example).
This is not a comprehensive list, and you ultimately will need to gather all the records to back up this information, such as your actual bills, pay stubs, retirements statements, credit cards statements, etc., but this is a good place to start. Your attorney will provide you with the exact forms and checklists for all the items you need.
Call today to schedule an appointment to discuss the particulars of your case. An experienced attorney can help make this challenging process much easier to navigate.