What advice would you give couples who are concerned about an equitable settlement?

The preliminary declaration of disclosure and the final declaration of disclosure are required of divorcing couples so that the petitioner and the respondent can accurately set forth the assets and debts of the marriage.

If for some reason you don’t have confidence and you are worried that your spouse is not disclosing all the assets and debts, you can engage in discovery – meaning you’ll send form interrogatories, special interrogatories, or demand production of documents. Your lawyer can send out subpoenas to banks or other financial institutions to do some discovery to see if your spouse is telling the truth.

You can file a motion with the court to have a forensic accountant appointed, and perhaps that forensic accountant has other ideas or can create a marital balance sheet, which means you know you can put different values on properties and debts on the marital balance sheet and make a proposed division of community assets and debts.

You have to start with the declaration of disclosure and decide whether you have faith in your spouse’s disclosure, because really you have a fiduciary duty to your spouse. That means that when you fill out your declaration of disclosure, you need to be truthful.

There are certain steps you can take, but you should talk to your lawyer. I use a lot of forensic accountants in the things that I do just to make sure that the person that I’m representing is getting an equitable division.


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