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10 Disclosures

Your Divorce Advisor Tips

10 Tips on Financial Disclosures

  • You must disclose everything you own and everything you earn. Failure to do so could result in your case being re-opened for fraud, and ruin your credibility.
  • If your income varies year to year and season to season, use an average of your income over time. Be prepared to explain why the period of time you chose was appropriate, and be prepared to show how you arrived at your numbers.
  • If you don't know how much an asset is worth, find out. Using "0" for an asset, or "not valued at this time" won't protect you from having your case re-opened when a different value is found—or even from a claim of fraud. Use appraisers, realtors (for real estate), even E-Bay to value your property properly.
  • Keep your disclosures up to date. If your income changes, or a stock price fluctuates, update your disclosures.
  • Provide documentation when possible. Receipts, cancelled checks, and bills of sale are helpful in determining value.
  • If your income has decreased recently, be prepared to explain and provide proof that your explanation is correct. If your department has abolished overtime, ask your supervisor to provide a copy of the new policy. If your commission structure has changed, be prepared to explain how.
  • Save your pay stubs, pension statements, bank statements, tax returns, and other financial documents, and put them in chronological order. You may be asked to verify the numbers you put on your financial disclosure.
  • Check your withholding taxes and make sure they reflect your actual tax liability. If you're over-withheld (you receive a sizeable tax refund each year), the opposition will probably figure that out. If you're under-withheld (you owe tax at the end of the year) your child support or alimony may be calculated using too high an income figure.
  • Make sure your budget is accurate. Use your check book register and keep track of your day-to-day expenses for at least 2 weeks, and make sure that your financial disclosure accurately reflects your lifestyle. You can only ask for what you need if you know what you spend.
  • Don't attempt to liquidate accounts or you risk violating a court order. Most courts have automatic orders limiting your expenditures during a divorce to "ordinary and necessary living expenses". If you spend more than usual, be prepared to explain why.
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