If there are issues of child support, division of marital assets and possibly alimony, one of the necessary parts of a divorce proceeding in Florida is the mandatory financial disclosure of the parties. Sometimes the extent of the disclosure comes as a bit of a shock, because it requires an in-depth analysis of the financial condition of both parties.
Further, this disclosure must be made fairly early in the proceeding. Under Florida Court Rule 12.285, the disclosures must be made within 45 days of the initial pleadings being served. You should be prepared to provide this information, and your attorney can help compile it.
What Must I Provide?
The following are the documents that must be exchanged by the parties:
(1) A financial affidavit in substantial conformity with Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(b) if the party’s gross annual income is less than $50,000, or Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(c) if the party’s gross annual income is equal to or more than $50,000, which requirement cannot be waived by the parties. The financial affidavits must also be filed with the court. A party may request, by using the Standard Family Law Interrogatories, or the court on its own motion may order, a party whose gross annual income is less than $50,000 to complete Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(c).
(2) All federal and state income tax returns, gift tax returns, and intangible personal property tax returns filed by the party or on the party’s behalf for the past 3 years.
(3) IRS forms W-2, 1099, and K-1 for the past year, if the income tax return for that year has not been prepared.
(4) Pay stubs or other evidence of earned income for the 3 months prior to service of the financial affidavit.
(5) A statement by the producing party identifying the amount and source of all income received from any source during the 3 months preceding the service of the financial affidavit required by this rule if not reflected on the pay stubs produced.
(6) All loan applications and financial statements prepared or used within the 12 months preceding service of that party’s financial affidavit required by this rule, whether for the purpose of obtaining or attempting to obtain credit or for any other purpose.
(7) All deeds within the last 3 years, all promissory notes within the last 12 months, and all present leases, in which the party owns or owned an interest, whether held in the party’s name individually, in the party’s name jointly with any other person or entity, in the party’s name as trustee or guardian for any other person, or in someone else’s name on the party’s behalf.
(8) All periodic statements from the last 3 months for all checking accounts, and from the last 12 months for all other accounts (for example, savings accounts, money market funds, certificates of deposit, etc.), regardless of whether or not the account has been closed, including those held in the party’s name individually, in the party’s name jointly with any other person or entity, in the party’s name as trustee or guardian for any other person, or in someone else’s name on the party’s behalf.
(9) All brokerage account statements in which either party to this action held within the last 12 months or holds an interest including those held in the party’s name individually, in the party’s name jointly with any person or entity, in the party’s name as trustee or guardian for any other person, or in someone else’s name on the party’s behalf.
(10) The most recent statement for any profit sharing, retirement, deferred compensation, or pension plan (for example, IRA, 401(k), 403(b), SEP, KEOGH, or other similar account) in which the party is a participant or alternate payee and the summary plan description for any retirement, profit sharing, or pension plan in which the party is a participant or an alternate payee. (The summary plan description must be furnished to the party on request by the plan administrator as required by 29 U.S.C. § 1024(b)(4).)
(11) The declarations page, the last periodic statement, and the certificate for all life insurance policies insuring the party’s life or the life of the party’s spouse, whether group insurance or otherwise, and all current health and dental insurance cards covering either of the parties and/or their dependent children.
(12) Corporate, partnership, and trust tax returns for the last 3 tax years if the party has an ownership or interest in a corporation, partnership, or trust greater than or equal to 30%.
(13) All promissory notes for the last 12 months, all credit card and charge account statements and other records showing the party’s indebtedness as of the date of the filing of this action and for the last 3 months, and all present lease agreements, whether owed in the party’s name individually, in the party’s name jointly with any other person or entity, in the party’s name as trustee or guardian for any other person, or in someone else’s name on the party’s behalf.
(14) All written premarital or marital agreements entered into at any time between the parties to this marriage, whether before or during the marriage.Additionally, in any modification proceeding, each party shall serve on the opposing party all written agreements entered into between them at any time since the order to be modified was entered.
(15) All documents and tangible evidence supporting the producing party’s claim that an asset or liability is nonmarital, for enhancement or appreciation of nonmarital property, or for an unequal distribution of marital property. The documents and tangible evidence produced shall be for the time period from the date of acquisition of the asset or debt to the date of production or from the date of the marriage, if based on premarital acquisition.
(16) Any court orders directing a party to pay or receive spousal or child support.
Why So Extensive?
The court needs all this information to make a fair and informed decision on the matters of child support, division of marital property and possibly, alimony. Without this full and fair disclosure of one’s financial situation, one party could be shortchanged while the other has a bit of a windfall. The courts really try to make things very fair.
Sometimes the court requires the parties to go into further detail and even hire a forensic accountant. Obviously, this adds to the costs, but can be necessary if there are questions about where an asset might be, or how the money was spent.
Get Good Counsel
This aspect of your divorce can have long ranging effects, so it is critical that you do it correctly. Don’t try to hide anything, and don’t lie to your attorney about the status of money or property. That will not go over well with the court, and could backfire on you.
A dedicated family law attorney who is experienced in the financial side of divorce law will be able to expertly guide you through this phase of your divorce.