For most people, blending finances and assets is a natural step when you get married. You’ll likely share bank accounts, credit cards, property, and savings. Of course, when you divorce, you have to go through a process of untangling all of those items. This act of identifying and disclosing all the financial documents for the purpose of separation is called mandatory discovery. Mandatory disclosure in Florida (Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285), is one of the most critical steps in a divorce. It’s also one of the most time consuming and frustrating steps in the divorce procedure. Most people find the process invasive and challenging, but it is a critical step that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. To fully understand the concept of mandatory disclosure in Florida, we’ve composed a list of the most important things you should know about this process.
- Mandatory disclosure is part of the litigation process in which both parties request and provide essential documents. These are financial documents that will be reviewed by the courts to make fair and just rulings in regards to the separation of finances and assets. If children are involved, you must include any documents that describe their financial role in the home as well. This might consist of private school tuition, extracurricular activity costs, or summer camp costs.
- Mandatory disclosure in Florida contains a list of sixteen financial items that should be disclosed by both parties. These documents include but are not limited to: bank account statements, pay stubs, tax returns, retirement or pension plan statements, debts, and other official documents.
- You can also request answers to a list of questions, called Interrogatories. It is a requirement to answer these in writing. Remember that these are considered official court documents for mandatory disclosure in Palm Beach County. You can be charged with perjury if you provide any false statements to these questions.
- Mandatory disclosure in Florida also allows each party to provide a Request of Admissions, which is when you ask the other party to admit to something or deny something in writing. Again, this will be an official court document, so, false statements can result in perjury. Putting statements like this early into the mandatory disclosure process can help to move the divorce proceedings along faster.
- Both parties also need to provide a Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit and file it in the court. A Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit is an official court document and sworn statement of your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.
- In certain circumstances, it is possible to waive the requirement to hand over your financial documents, but waiving the Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit is not possible. Regardless if you’re going through mandatory disclosure or not, completing this step is always necessary.
- Mandatory disclosure in Florida requires all parties to hand over the documents requested within 45 days of the initial petition of the divorce. The documents must then be copied and inspected for legitimacy.
- You can request an extension for the mandatory disclosure process. Up to five days before the deadline, either party can request an extension, but both parties must agree to it. Requests are often granted when you need more time to collect certain documents from banks or other financial institutions.
- There are certain circumstances when mandatory disclosure in Florida doesn’t apply. Simplified divorce cases usually do not involve minor children, and each party has already agreed on the terms of the divorce and the separation of finances, debts, and assets.
- Disclosing these documents and providing all the necessary information during this process helps to make it more efficient and cost-effective. While neither party may want to disclose this information, it’s essential to provide these documents to your divorce attorney. Handing over all required documents can help lower your expenses during the litigation process and make the divorce move forward. Any legal expert will tell you that it’s in your best interest to collect and provide these financial documents as soon as possible.
For More Information on Mandatory Disclosure in Florida
If you’d like more information on the mandatory discovery process and what it includes, contact an experienced divorce attorney. Your attorney can help you to understand why this process is necessary and how to complete this step efficiently and smoothly. Remember that when both parties make the mandatory disclosure process difficult or refuse to disclose certain documents or statements, it can not only become frustrating, but it can also become more expensive. It’s vital to gather and disclose these financial documents so you can find resolutions to the terms of the divorce and move forward. Contact a trusted Boca Raton divorce attorney today to learn more about your options.