20 Jun Mandatory Financial Disclosures in Florida Divorce Proceedings
Mandatory Financial Disclosure
In many ways, getting divorced is akin to severing a contract. This means that all financial aspects of the dissolution need be resolved prior to the Florida family court granting a dissolution. Accordingly, one of the legal terms you may hear thrown around in a Florida divorce is “mandatory disclosure.” Mandatory disclosure refers to the required revelation of certain financial information, as dictated by the Florida Family Rules of Procedure.
In the Florida Family law discovery process, both parties must submit — either to his or her spouse or the spouse’s attorney — all financial documentation, including (but not limited to):
* Bank account statements;
* Titles and deeds;
* Retirement account statements;
* Credit card account statements;
* Tax returns;
* Business tax returns;
* Pay stubs;
* Income statements;
* Other liability statements including loans, mortgages and car loan documents;
* Any other documents showing ownership of any asset or any liability.
It is also mandatory that each party file a Florida Family law Financial Affidavit. The documentation listed will help support the amount declared on the financial affidavit and both are important. The financial affidavit (itself) is an overview of assets, debts and liabilities, including your monthly expenses. The numbers provided in these forms are used to determine the amount paid (potentially) in Florida child support and spousal support (alimony).
Child and Spousal Support.
Child support is determined following an equation dictated by statute. It is designed so that each parent pays a fair share for their children’s care and is based on a percentage of each party’s income. Spousal support is not as easy. It is awarded at the discretion of the court, and there is no equation to help the court determine how much support to award. The court must look at several factors including the length of the marriage, the finances of both parties and several other factors to determine if support is warranted and if so, how much support to award.
Sometimes, you are not able to obtain certain documents or it may take longer than the allotted time to obtain those documents. During the discovery phase, you may be served with interrogatories, requests for production and requests for admissions. If you cannot get the documents, you simply need to say that they exist but are not in your possession. If you can obtain the documents, state the amount of time required to get the documents into your hands. If a document does not exist because you do not have that type of account, you must state in your answer that the request is not applicable to you as that asset does not exist.
Florida family courts (and Miami, Florida family courts, in particular) take the discovery process seriously. If it is found that you do not provide documentation of an asset in an attempt to hide that asset from your spouse, you may be sanctioned. Sanctions vary based on what your spouse may request and what the court might think is fair. Often, you end up losing that asset to your spouse or you may have to pay a fine to your spouse.
Service of Discovery Documents
Read all of the discovery requests before you start to respond to them. Make an extra copy to use for notes. Once you have all documents together, you can either scan and email, fax or drop off the records to our office. Generally, we will have 30 days to respond to discovery requests, but your attorney may ask for more time if it is needed.
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