Divorce and Declarations of Disclosure
California is a full disclosure state under the Divorce law. The intent of the California Divorce laws is to enable every party free and unfiltered access to the other parties assets and liabilities.
The Court seeks to under Family Law Code Section 2100 et siq. to “preserve, and protect community and quasi-community assets and liabilities that exist at the date of separation so as to avoid dissipation of the community estate before distribution.”
In addition, one of the important reasons parties need to disclose financial assets and liabilities is to “to ensure fair and sufficient child and spousal support awards.” Parties need to know the other partys finances in order to enter into any spousal support or child support pendite lite orders.
The Family Law Court system also hears cases that not only deal with divorce but also legal separation and nullitys. These are proceedings closely related to divorces but deal with distinct issues and law.Minimization of Adversarial Proceedings
Family Law Courts want to avoid an adversarial setting. Often parties go to court and want to litigate their case and fight it out. However, the Family Law Court has decided in order to avoid this type of litigiousness full disclosure of all assets and debts will resolve the unnecessary Court bickering and expensive costs of the Divorce by having full disclosure of all assets and debts. In addition, The Court permits broad discovery to permit the parties to gain knowledge of all of the other parties assets and liabilities.
To facilitate this process the Court has mandated a set of rules that each party must follow in order to fulfil the “accurate disclosure of all assets and liabilities in which one or both parties have or may have an interest..in.” At the beginning of the divorce the parties must fill out legal forms and serve them to the other party.
“ ..the disclosures.. must be made in the early stages of a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation of the parties, regardless of the characterization as community or separate” property. This includes “disclosure of all income and expenses of the parties.” Often the parties need to fill out legal forms for their assets an debts and legal forms for their income and expenses. They then must serve a copy on the opposing party.Change of Disclosures
In addition, to the initial disclosure of the assets and debts, the parties have “ a continuing duty to update” and change their disclosures “to the extent 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 full and complete knowledge of the relevant underlying facts.”
Parties must disclose early on in the divorce proceedings and later on in the proceedings prior to any trial. Often this means they are submitting the same documents at the beginning of the divorce and at the end of the divorce if no changes in their finances have occurred.