Saturday, February 28, 2009

Financial Disclosures In A Florida Divorce: The Paper Chase

Florida family law has specific rules which include financial disclosures between husband and wife. Specifically, when a divorced is filed, the rule requires each party to file a financial affidavit with the Court. A financial affidavit is a snapshot of a party's financial condition, including daily expenses, assets accumulated, and debt owed.

But that's not all. The rule requires a party to disclose--or provide copies of documents for- 15 other documents applicable to assets and debt. There are the obvious ones like income tax returns; pay stubs; bank account statements for all types of accounts, including savings, checking and brokerage accounts, and deeds to properties. In addition, it requires statements for retirement account; loan application; declaration pages for insurance, including life insurance provided through an employer; marital agreements between the parties; and other documents showing the ownership of an asset.

Just like the documents for assets, the one for debt apply whether the debt is in joint names or in the name of one party alone.

In most cases, the parties basically exchange the same documents; but unless the parties agree to waive the requirement, they must comply.

At the time of a divorce, or in preparation for one, it is not uncommon for one party to have all or most of the documents, leaving the other party with few options other than indicating that the documents are not in his or her possession.

The rule gives the parties 45 days from the date the divorce petition is served on the other party. There is good reason for this period: parties usually avoid looking for documents until the end, dreading the search for particular documents, requesting duplicate bank statements, brokerage account statements, life insurance policies and the like.

Of course, the requirements of this rule can be avoided if the parties waive it---they can agree to file only the financial affidavit for each, which is a requirement that cannot be waived. However this waiver is not a decisionto be made lightly, and should be carefully considered after discussing with an attorney. A party agreeing to waive the requirements cannot later cry foul if he or she discovers that the "Ex" has property acquired during the marriage but of which they had no knowledge. For specific details of what documents must be produced see Rule 12.285(d), of the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

(c) 2007 Vivian Rodriguez. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

Vivian Rodriguez has been a practicing attorney in Florida for over 18 years, and a Florida Supreme Court certified famly mediator. Tel 305-760-4557.

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