Final Declaration of Disclosure in Divorce Needed for Discovery

What is A Declaration of Disclosure?

All divorce cases filed in California require the exchange of “Declarations of Disclosure.”  The Declarations of Disclosure are financial disclosures that each party to a divorce case must provide to the other side, and they consist of an Income & Expense Declaration as well as a Schedule of Assets and Debts.  Those documents are exactly like they sound, they list out all income, expenses, assets and debts.  Our San Diego divorce attorneys have provided more information about Declarations of Disclosure for you, here.  Each party must also declare whether any investment opportunities and things of that nature arose for either party during the marriage.

Preliminary vs Final Declaration of Disclosure

There are two kinds of disclosure required; the “preliminary” Declaration of Disclosure which is provided typically at the beginning of a case and the “final” declaration of disclosure which is provided at the end of the case.  Parties to a divorce (or dissolution of marriage) case can elect to “waive” their final disclosures, but the preliminary disclosures are required.

In addition to financial disclosures, parties to a divorce case are allowed to conduct discovery, which is information gathering.  This might consist of sending our subpoenas, taking depositions, demanding documents, and so forth.  The Code of Civil Procedure governs the rules of discovery.  Needless to say, if one party is not cooperative in the discovery process, the court can order significant sanctions.

In the recent case of Marriage of Fong. (2011) 193 CA4th 278, the Court of Appeals held that a trial court properly awarded a wife $100,000 in attorney fees as a sanction against the husband because the husband frustrated settlement (sanctions can be awarded pursuant to Family Code 271).  However, the trial court’s order that the husband has to pay another $200,000 as a sanction for his refusal to cooperate with discovery was not allowed – the Court of Appeal said that in order for the wife to get her sanctions, she had to have served her Final Declaration of Disclosure on the husband.

The Court of Appeal said that in order for the wife to get discovery sanctions pursuant to Family Code 2107, she must be a “complying party” and that means she must have served her final disclosures.

If you have a case where discovery is at issue, contact our San Diego divorce experts at Wilkinson & Finkbeiner. Call (619) 284-4113 today.