Do I Have to Disclose My Finances on this Financial Disclosure Form?

One of the many perks of filing for divorce (whether you are filing the original Complaint, or the reactionary Counterclaim) is that you get to fill out a rather laborious document that aims to list your every asset, debt, and cost in the known universe.

What did you spend at Target last May?

Anticipating fire taxes?

Who is the beneficiary of the life insurance?  Is it term or whole or whatever the hell?

No one seems to know.  And no one cares.  No one except the other attorney.  No one will read your financial disclosure more carefully than the other attorney.  The jerk.

Beware of guesses.  Think your thrift savings might be thirty grand?  Three hundred grand?  If you’re not sure make a call or send a fax before signing your name.  In RI the financial disclosure form is, essentially, an affidavit.  You sign it stating it is an accurate snapshot of your current outlook.

Most lawyers most of the time won’t give you a hard time if you underestimate your cable bill a bit.

But forget a vehicle, or a house, or to list your business on there and your spouse’s attorney will make your life miserable for a bit before it is all over.

Sure it hurts to list that pension YOU have worked for thirty years.  But it won’t hurt as much as intentionally leaving it off when Wife mentions it in passing to her attorney, who has now made your Public Enemy #1 for a few months.

Rule of thumb – if you are truly not sure whether something has to be listed on there, just list it.  Trust me it’s easier to explain why you listed your grandma’s dentures than it is to leave anything out (depending on the language of your divorce, a party who fails to list an asset which is discovered after a divorce may have to part with 2/3, ¾ or all of that asset!).

If you have a decent attorney you can sleepwalk through parts of your divorce, to be honest.  But this isn’t one of those parts.  Ask questions, be specific, and demand the other party do the same.

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