Coates & Frey, Attorneys at Law, LLLC
Phone: (808) 524-4854

Do you really have to disclose all your finances in a divorce?

One of the biggest parts of any divorce process is the division of assets and debts. Unfortunately, many times one spouse (or both) may be somewhat unaware of the other spouse's financial dealings. That's why the court requires both parties to put all their "financial cards" on the proverbial table before the divorce can be settled.

This can be very disconcerting if you're used to keeping your financial information private even from your spouse -- but it's your legal obligation to make a full disclosure during the discovery process of a divorce.

What happens if you refuse to disclose your information?

Even just hesitating to provide your spouse's attorney with things like the tax returns, bank records, investment statements and pay stubs will probably raise some suspicions. That can, at best, impair settlement negotiations and delay your divorce while your spouse's attorney digs deeper into your affairs to see if you're hiding something.

How will the court enforce your obligation?

If your spouse (or your spouse's attorney) suspects that you aren't being utterly forthcoming about your financial information, you'll probably start receiving some formal requests for information.

Usually, the process will start with a written request for a variety of financial documentation. You may also have to reply to an interrogatory, which is a written set of questions. If your spouse still isn't convinced that he or she has all the information necessary to make a fair split of the assets or you can't come to an agreement about how to divide your property and debts, you may be forced to give a deposition. Depositions are meetings in which an attorney can ask questions. The answers are recorded and can be used as evidence in court, if necessary.

What's the worst that could happen?

Trying to hide your financial assets in a divorce is a very bad idea. In short, "Yes, you have to disclose everything." Otherwise, you risk contempt charges for ignoring the court's order and potential sanctions that could cost you whatever assets you're trying to hide.

If you're worried about protecting your assets in a divorce, the smart thing to do is to seek experienced legal guidance as early as possible.

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