What to Expect When Providing Full Financial Disclosure to a Divorce Lawyer
Divorce can be much more complicated than it appears at first glance. Among other things, married couples must identify and disentangle all financial assets and liabilities in order to operate separately following the divorce. If the couple has been married long, the process can become extremely complex, requiring assistance from accountants, valuation experts, and others in addition to savvy divorce attorneys. A key part of the process is full financial disclosure of all assets, debts, income, and expenses from each party. Below, our seasoned New Jersey divorce attorneys discuss the financial disclosure process.
Why is Full Financial Disclosure Required?
New Jersey law requires each party to a divorce to file a Case Information Statement for financial discovery, providing a complete and accurate picture of their financial standing as individuals and as a married couple. Full and complete financial disclosure is an essential part of the divorce process.
The parties and/or the court will need to resolve a number of issues related to the divorce, including equitable distribution of marital property, child custody, child support, and spousal support. Resolution of all of these issues, even including child custody, depends at least in part on the finances of each party individually and of the couple jointly. Parties must disclose all assets so that they and the court can accurately determine which assets are separate and which are marital property. Marital property is subject to equitable division upon divorce, while separate property stays with its owner. Alimony and child support awards are based in part on the financial circumstances of each party, including income, assets, and debts, and the standard of living experienced during the marriage. Even child custody decisions take into account the finances and financial security of each party, although by no means will a court default to awarding custody to the wealthier party.
What Financial Documents are Necessary in a New Jersey Divorce?
You and your attorney will gather all relevant financial documents in preparation for your New Jersey divorce. Your attorney will file a statement concerning the state of your finances and identify all relevant assets, but the evidence itself is subject to discovery by the other party to the case. Parties are likely to request additional documents if they have reason to suspect the other party could be hiding assets, underreporting income, or otherwise providing misleading information. Your spouse will be able to request evidence through document requests, depositions of witnesses, interrogatories (asking for answers to specific questions), and other forms of discovery.
To ensure that you are providing full information, and to prepare for any documentary requests, you and your attorney will gather all relevant documents and information concerning your finances. While you may not need to gather every single document before receiving a request, it is good practice to have already gathered several documents likely to come up in the case, including:
- Pay stubs from all sources of income for the past several years
- Investment account records
- Records of debts
- Joint and individual tax returns
- Records of business expenses, especially for a self-employed party
- Bank statements
- Credit card bills
- Retirement fund account statements
- Bankruptcy or foreclosure records
- Insurance policy information
- Real estate documentation
Seasoned Legal Advice and Representation For Your New Jersey Divorce or Family Law Matter
If you need experienced, excellent legal assistance with divorce, paternity, child custody, premarital agreements, child support, alimony, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.