What if he won’t provide the financial disclosure documentation?

A number of steps are taken at the beginning of divorce proceedings. One of the more significant steps that both parties must take at the commencement of a marriage dissolution case is providing certain financial disclosure documentation.

In some cases, the provision of financial disclosures by both parties happens without a hitch. On the other hand, with surprising regularity, issues arise in regard to financial disclosures that are necessary to be provided at the commencement of divorce proceedings.

Financial Disclosure Form or Affidavit

A key component of financial disclosures made at the commencement of divorce proceedings is the completion of a financial disclosure statement or affidavit. The document typically is completed and then verified by the party to a divorce case as being true and correct to that individual’s best knowledge and belief. If an individual knowingly provides false information in a financial disclosure, or if an individual fails to provide financial information that should have been disclosed, serious consequences can follow.

As an aside, both parties to a divorce case need to keep financial disclosures up to date. If there are financial changes during the course of divorce proceedings, a party needs to update the financial disclosures made at the start of divorce proceedings.

Motion to Compel

The primary step that a party to a divorce can take if the other spouse fails to make proper financial disclosures is to file a motion to compel that disclosure. In pursuing such a motion, the party seeking to have the other spouse provide a proper financial disclosure may also seek to have the court impose sanctions on the noncompliant spouse.

Sanctions in this type of situation typically include ordering the spouse who failed to make proper financial disclosures to pay the attorney fees of the party that was forced to file a motion to compel.

Once a motion to compel is filed with the court, a hearing usually is scheduled to take evidence and hear testimony about the failure to provide proper financial disclosures. Oftentimes what happens when a motion to compel is filed, the party who had not made disclosures will in fact file a disclosure statement and other necessary documents.

The filing of the disclosure information during this time period may not result in the motion to compel being dismissed. The parties can agree to a dismissal, and the court usually will honor those wishes. On the other hand, that is not always the case. There are instances in which the court may not be so willing to dismiss immediately a motion to compel even though the disclosures were made after it was filed.

If the failure to make proper financial disclosures has been an issue for a more extended period of time, the court may go ahead with the scheduled hearing even if the disclosures were made after the motion to compel was filed. The court may proceed with the hearing to ascertain if the offending party really has complied. In addition, despite the disclosure being made, albeit late, the court may still want to examine imposing sanctions on the party that failed to make proper disclosures in a timely manner. Indeed, the party that brought the motion to compel may want sanctions, particularly attorney fees, even though the needed disclosures were provided after the motion to compel was filed with the court.