Financial Checklist for Divorce or Separation in California
California law requires people to share financial information during the divorce process. These financial disclosures are mandatory even if you've shared a checking account and worked together on a budget for years.
If you've started the divorce process, you must share data within 60 days of filing. If you've been served with papers, you have 60 days to share data after you file a response.
9 items you need to get started
Financial paperwork helps you fill out forms accurately. Often, you must attach some of these documents to the forms when you've filled them out.
You will need these items:
- Tax returns: The documents you filed for the past two years are required for these forms.
- Proof of income: Pay stubs from the prior two months are required. If you're self-employed, printouts from your accounting software may do the trick.
- Mortgage statements: If you share property with your spouse, these documents outline what you owe on the loan.
- Loan documents: If you borrowed money to buy a boat, car, or another item, loan documents outline how much you still owe.
- Credit card statements: Accurate statements help you understand how much you owe together.
- Titles: If you own cars or homes without a loan, titles prove it. If you have formal value assessments (like appraisals), those are helpful.
- Bank statements: Checking and savings accounts you share should be included. If you set up a hidden account your partner never knew about, include those statements, too.
- Retirement account basics: If you have an IRA, 401k or pension plan, you'll need accurate statements about the amount in each account.
- Agreements: If you signed a prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement or some other legal form about your split, you'll need those copies.
Know that sharing these documents doesn't mean you'll share the funds. Instead, these details help you, your spouse and the courts understand your financial situation so you can come to an appropriate agreement.
4 financial forms you must complete
Once you've done all of your critical research and gathered documents, it's time to fill out paperwork. Pay close attention to the numbers you write on each line. Mistakes are hard to correct when you catch them later.
You must share these three forms with your spouse:
- Declaration of Disclosure (FL-140): Think of this form as a cover sheet for all the documents you will send to your spouse. Remember to sign it.
- Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150): This form is designed to capture information about how much you earn and what you spend. Proof of your income must be attached to this form.
- Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142) or Property Declaration (FL-160): These forms capture information about how much you've borrowed and what you owe.
You can give these documents to your spouse directly, or you can pop them in the mail. You're not required to file these documents with the courts handling your divorce. But you must prove that you've shared the data with your partner.
When you've given your spouse the documents, fill out the Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure (FL-141). This form proves to the court that you shared the required financial information with your spouse.
Be open and honest
It's tempting to leave out core details or blur the financial information. You may want to hold some money back for yourself, your children, or your future. But lying isn't smart. Be fully honest in all your disclosures.
If you lie or hide data, you could face penalties, including the following:
- Loss of property: The court could give your spouse everything you tried to hide. The financial impact could be substantial.
- Fines: The court could make you pay your spouse's attorney fees, and you could be charged a penalty. This can add up to a large amount of money.
- Loss: The court could also cancel any agreements you already made about your property or spousal support.
Transparency can help your split moves forward properly with no nasty surprises. If you need guidance through the process, reach out to a professional service for help. At Hello Divorce, we provide free 15-minute introductory calls to people who want to learn more about our services.
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ReferencesGather and Share Financial Information. Judicial Branch of California.
File Proof You Shared Financial Information. Judicial Branch of California.