What Financial Information Do You Need to Disclose in a Divorce?

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

What Financial Information Do You Need to Disclose in a Divorce?

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

When couples divorce, the relationship is often strained and sometimes contentious. The idea of disclosing personal financial information can seem invasive. However, you may owe a duty to your spouse under your state's laws. Each state's statutes dictate what divorcing couples must disclose to each other and to the court and when you need to make those disclosures. Complying fully with financial disclosure requirements helps ensure settlement and support agreements are fair and can help expedite your divorce proceedings.

Man in suit signing document across from two people at desk

Required Financial Disclosures

Both the person filing for divorce and his or her spouse must disclose certain financial information as part of the process. When a divorce is final, the divorce decree spells out how the couple is dividing their assets and liabilities. In some cases, the court may award spousal maintenance or support (alimony) or child support based in part on each spouse's financial picture. Because the financial implications of these decisions are long-lasting and far-reaching, it is important that the decisions be based on accurate and complete information.

In general, spouses must disclose information about their assets including (but not limited to) real estate, checking and savings accounts, investment accounts, retirement assets, vehicles and other tangible personal property, life insurance, annuities, and business assets. Financial disclosures also include each spouse's respective income, including base salary as well as commissions, bonuses, stock options, and other compensation. Finally, each spouse must also disclose his or her debts and other financial liabilities.

Your disclosure obligation extends to assets titled jointly with your spouse as well as to assets you own in your name alone, with other owners, inside a trust, or held in the name of a business.

Responding to Document Requests

Your state may have standardized forms you can use to make your financial disclosure. In some situations, you must also provide copies of bank account statements, investment and retirement account statements, tax returns and filings, proof of asset valuation, and other documentation to support your disclosure.

Some states require both initial financial disclosures and additional disclosures before the court grants the divorce. In some states, both spouses can agree to waive the second disclosure requirement.

Provide all required information in a timely manner but no later than the deadline specified in the document request or interrogatory filing.

Potential Consequences for Incorrect or Incomplete Disclosures

Failing to comply with your financial disclosure obligation or trying to hide assets before or during your divorce can result in serious consequences.

When you make your disclosure to the court, you must also sign a legal document attesting to the accuracy and completeness of the information reported. Spouses who attempt to keep assets out of their divorce proceedings can be found guilty of committing fraud. Courts do not look kindly on spouses who try to hide assets, often awarding the other spouse a larger settlement and requiring the guilty party to pay attorneys' fees and court costs.

Disclosing details about your financial assets, income, and debts is often overwhelming and may seem onerous, but there are good reasons to do so. If you have questions about whether you need to report something or how to complete a disclosure form, contact a family law attorney licensed in your state or work with an online service provider.

Resources:

Divorce Magazine - The Importance of Financial Disclosure in Divorce

Marriage.com - Divorce: Financial Disclosure

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.