In my last two articles, we began a review of the top five mistakes that divorcing parties make prior to or during litigation. We discussed that Florida has a “no fault” policy thus creating unique laws regarding divorce that may vary widely from other states. We also reviewed that posting negative or disparaging comments on social media prior to or during a divorce is a significant mistake especially when they will probably be viewed by the Judge.
Some of the most innocent and costly mistakes made in litigation are during disclosure. In Florida, each party is required to exchange extensive financial documentation, as well as, file financial affidavits identifying all income, expenses, assets and liabilities at the time of the divorce whether marital or non-marital.
Believing that divorce discovery is relegated to joint marital accounts, assets, liabilities or employment information is a common misunderstanding. The required disclosure is much broader. It includes information as innocuous as interest income from the children’s savings accounts to disclosure of third party accounts and holdings with non-marital people. Accounts titled jointly with parents or siblings, third party trusts of which one or the other spouse is named a beneficiary, or assets gifted or acquired prior to or during the marriage that have retained value require identification and valuation. Insurance policies, time shares, shares in a closely held corporation, or other items that are more difficult to value must also be identified and disclosed. Loans, credit card debts, contingent responsibilities, and other liabilities are included in this review.
A party may lose the right to make critical legal arguments if disclosure is not compliant. These losses may include non-marital assets being characterized as marital and divided with the ex-spouse, a finding of contempt by a Judge, or worse, creating a loop-hole for an ex-spouse to have a second bite of the apple in subsequent court proceedings.
For more information on how to properly and accurately disclose required discovery in a divorce proceeding, feel free to contact me:
[contact-form-7 id=”17″ title=”Florida Weekly”]