Declarations of Disclosure
As part of the divorce process, very early on you will likely hear mention of your “duty of disclosure” and the requirement to complete your declarations of disclosure. The declarations of disclosure are comprised of a set of judicial council forms that both spouses must complete. At the start of divorce process, you complete your preliminary declarations of disclosure, and at the end (or near trial) you complete your final declarations of disclosure. The two forms of primary importance, which are the same for both preliminary and final disclosures, are as follows:
- Income and Expense Declaration
- Schedule of Assets and Debts
When presented with these forms, it is not uncommon to become overwhelmed. However, a careful read-through of the forms can help make filling them out seem less daunting. The Income and Expense Declaration seeks information regarding your sources of income and total monthly expenses. When filling out the information regarding income, it is important to note that the form asks what your “gross” or pre-tax income is, not your net/after-tax income. This is one of the subtleties of the form that many people miss. The form also makes clear that it is seeking information regarding all sources of income, not just income generated from one’s employment. So, for example, if you receive rental income, it will need to be disclosed. There are many types of income that must be disclosed, including but not limited to, pension payments, social security retirement, unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation, disability, public assistance, dividend or interest income, etc. You will also need to provide disclosure of your deductions—this includes your health insurance, any required union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, as well as support paid for a child from a prior relationship or support paid to a spouse from a prior marriage. As for your expenses, this can also become somewhat overwhelming. However, the form has the option for you to check the box that what you are providing are your “actual” expenses, “estimated” expenses, or “proposed” expenses. For most people, the numbers they provide are a combination of both estimated and actual expenses. The expense line-items include how much you pay in rent or a mortgage, your groceries, utilities, out of pocket health care costs, eating out, child care, laundry, clothing, education, savings, and even charitable contributions. When in doubt, it is advisable to indicate that your numbers are estimates. Once the Income and Expense Declaration is complete, you will need to attach copies of your most recent paystubs for the past two months.
The other form required for your declarations of disclosure is the Schedule of Assets and Debts. The Schedule of Assets and Debts is a form asking you to disclose any assets and debts in which you have an interest. The form is broken down into categories. Some examples of what you need to disclose include the address of any homes or real property in which you have an interest, vehicles, checking accounts, savings accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, stock options and RSU’s, business interests, tax liabilities, and credit cards. The best way to approach completing your declarations of disclosure is that when in doubt, disclose. A failure to comply with one’s disclosure requirements can have serious implications as discussed in prior articles on our firm website. Once you have completed your Schedule of Assets and Debts, you will need to attach the most recent copies of your statements related to the assets and debts you have disclosed. For any real property, copies of the deed should be attached. Similarly, for any vehicles, titles should be provided as well. You will also need to provide copies of the tax returns filed by you for the past three years.
Here are Mello & Pickering, LLP, with our combined 40 years of experience in family law, we have helped guide several clients through the divorce process. We have helped prepare countless disclosures and can help answer any questions you might have. Call our office for your free consultation today.