A key issue at the commencement of a divorce proceeding is accounting for the assets acquired and the debts accumulated by a couple during the course of a marriage. Although divorce laws do vary somewhat from one U.S. state to another, overall these statutes are remarkably similar. For example, all state laws, including Pennsylvania, have procedures utilized to disclose and account for financial related information when a divorce case commences. These divorce financial disclosures are made at the start of divorce proceedings.
The Basic Elements of a Divorce Financial Disclosures
The two most fundamental elements of a financial disclosure statement filed at the commencement of divorce proceedings is a comprehensive itemization of assets and debts. This includes not only cash and cash equivalents but more significant items of personal property, including motor vehicles and certain types of home furnishings.
Debts must also be thoroughly itemized in a financial disclosure statement. All debts, from home mortgages to credit cards, must be included in a financial disclosure statement, along with the balances in these various accounts.
Supplementing Divorce Financial Disclosures
Divorce courts mandate that a financial disclosure statement must be updated whenever there is any significant change in regard to the assets or debts registered initially in the document. The failure to update a statement properly can result in the party failing to take this step to face court sanctions.
Challenging a Financial Disclosure Statement
Each spouse has the legal ability to challenge a financial disclosure statement submitted to the court by the other party. In fact, disputes over financial disclosure statements are commonplace in divorce cases in the United States.
Penalties for Failing to Accurately Complete a Financial Disclosure Statement
Another key element of a financial disclosure statement is the declaration that the content in the document is true and correct under penalty of perjury. The failure to provide correct information in the first instance can result in a court imposing significant sanctions on the offending party. A person who provides inaccurate information can be held in contempt of court. Such an individual could face a monetary sanction as well.
A financial disclosure statement is a fundamental pleading, or legal document, in a divorce case. Many other aspects of a divorce case depend upon a financial disclosure statement being thorough and accurate. This includes everything from the division of assets and debts to the computation of child support and alimony. The ubiquitous manner in which a financial disclosure statement is used underscores the need for authenticity and accuracy.