What financial disclosure must be made as part of a divorce?
Attorney Michelle Barry talk about what financial disclosures must be made as part of a divorce in Florida.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Michelle Barry, she's a family law attorney right here in Orlando. She specializes in divorce, alimony, child support, and time-sharing. Hey, Michelle, how are you doing today?
Attorney Michelle Barry: I am great. Thanks for having me on your show, Tom.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey, Michelle, I got a email last week from a radio listener, and the question was. He said his wife and him are going to file for a divorce, what kind of financial information is he going to have to disclose as part of getting that divorce? What would your answer to him be?
Attorney Michelle Barry: Well, of course the first and easiest one is to say everything. When it comes to a dissolution of marriage, the single most important document that is filed by each party is the sworn financial affidavit. It is a notarized sworn statement and it carries penalties of perjury if you lie on it. It's one of the things that has to be disclosed and the trick is to make sure that everything that was accumulated during the marriage is listed on that financial affidavit. And both parties are each going to complete one of their own. It's not like the court goes through and double checks the numbers, but disclosure is really pursuant to statute to each other.
It keeps both parties honest, it delineates what is marital, what is non-marital, and it covers everything that was accumulated during the marriage. Even if it was from, for instance, a financial affidavit that shows a 401(k) accumulated 10 years before the marriage dissolved. That 401(k), it's a retirement plan that was part of the marital assets and it does need to be listed. So, full disclosure, required by statute, and it's a matter of being totally honest so it doesn't come back to bite you later on.
Attorney Tom Olsen: If a married couple came to you and said, "Hey, we don't have any minor children. We have completely agreed on how to split up the assets of our marriage." Would they still need to do that?
Attorney Michelle Barry: It's required by statute that they put at least what we call minimum mandatory disclosure on the financial affidavits. Those are my favorite kind of folks to work with because those are considered uncontested dissolutions. I can pretty much draft every document in the case, and they usually proceed very quickly because the folks are not arguing about who owns what? They're of course aware of what each party has and whether or not some of it was inherited, or whether or not some of it was accumulated outside of the marriage. These are things that if they're ahead of the game and they know how they're going to split everything up, that is fantastic because that's what generates the marital settlement agreement. But that is why it is also important that the disclosure be truthful because the people entering into that agreement are relying on that disclosure. If it turns out to be incorrect it could be dangerous later on.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey, Michelle. That reminds me, isn't there a minimum waiting period between the time you filed the divorce and between the judge would grant your divorce, so even if they have everything worked out--?
Attorney Michelle Barry: Not anymore. The way things are in today's world with electronic filing and everything else, what we now have is, especially in uncontested dissolutions, I have literally walked into the courthouse with the entire package and had a final judgment show up in my mailbox a couple of days later. Now, that depends of course by county. Some of them will deal with everything electronically, and others, you have to go in for a final hearing at a nice early time in the morning and it's still conveyed as an uncontested dissolution. But each court has its own process. It used to be that you had a 21-day waiting period. Nowadays things move a bit quicker.
Attorney Tom Olsen: That's what I remember.
Attorney Michelle Barry: Yes, that was back in the day.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey, Michelle, tell the listeners how to reach you.
Attorney Michelle Barry: Best way to reach me is at my phone number of 407-622-4529, or email me, because I can answer those from anywhere, even if I'm in court waiting on a hearing. The email address is, firstname.lastname@example.org which is M-I-C-H-E-L-L-E@M-B-A-R-R-Y-L-A-W.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Thank you, Michelle. We appreciate it.