What If My Spouse Refuses to Complete Financial Disclosures?

Financial disclosures are a vital part of the divorce process. They ensure that each party to the divorce case fully understands the other person’s financial situation. In turn, this understanding promotes fair property division and a settlement agreement everyone can accept.

Learn more: What Are Financial Disclosures?

Can a spouse refuse to share their financial information?

Unfortunately, some spouses refuse to participate in the financial disclosure process. For whatever reason, they withhold financial documents and protect sensitive information that would have made divorce proceedings a lot easier for everyone.

Examples of information your spouse may be refusing to share with you include the following:

  • Tax returns
  • Bank accounts
  • Expense declarations
  • Pay stubs
  • Credit card statements

Why does my spouse refuse to complete financial disclosures?

It's possible that your spouse may not want to disclose their financial information due to fear of being judged or lack of trust. They may feel overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork involved and intimidated by the thought of sharing such a detailed accounting of their finances.

Fortunately, there are several strategies for getting around this problem without resorting to legal action. First, try talking with your spouse about why they are refusing full financial disclosure. Perhaps there are misunderstandings or apprehensions between the two of you that could be cleared up with communication.

Mediation is another viable option. You could seek a third-party mediator to help facilitate productive conversations between you. Or, you could enlist a financial expert to provide additional guidance.

Why full financial disclosure is necessary

Whether you live in an equitable distribution state or a community property state, you can’t achieve a fair distribution of assets without fully disclosing each spouse’s financial situation. 

Spousal support calculations assess whether one spouse can afford to pay the other alimony and whether the second spouse needs it. These calculations rest on the bedrock of disclosed financial realities. 

Without financial disclosures, the spousal support determination risks being skewed.

List of documents for financial disclosure

  • Bank statements
  • Paystubs
  • Tax returns
  • Retirement account statements
  • Property details
  • Investment records
  • Business interests
  • Debt statements
  • Life insurance policies
  • Personal property valuations

Key steps to take if a spouse refuses financial disclosure

  •  Document: Keep a record of every message, every attempt, every non-response. Document everything.
  •  File a motion: Filing a motion to compel disclosure is you telling the court your spouse isn’t cooperating with the process. You’ll need to provide your documentation along with the motion.
  •  Attend a hearing: A judge may require a hearing on your motion to give your spouse an opportunity to defend their inaction. If the judge agrees with you, they’ll compel your spouse to complete the financial disclosure or face sanctions.
  •  Request sanctions: If your spouse doesn’t comply, request sanctions. A court may issue monetary fines to compel your spouse to complete the financial disclosure.

Non-compliance with financial disclosures isn’t just frowned upon. As noted, judges won’t tolerate parties ignoring their requests. Here are tools a judge can use to compel action:

  • Strike pleadings: They could erase portions of your spouse’s legal arguments.
  • Issue sanctions: They could assess fines on the person unwilling to cooperate.
  • Award attorneys’ fees: The judge could make your spouse pay some or all of your attorneys’ fees if they continue to refuse to participate in the financial disclosure process.

Read: A Beginner's Guide to Divorce Mediation


Other ways to get your spouse to cooperate

Document your attempts

If you've attempted to work peaceably with your spouse and they still refuse to cooperate, make sure you have extensive and accurate documentation of your attempts. This is crucial evidence a judge will want to review.

Should you hire a private investigator?

You may need to hire a private investigator to uncover your spouse's financial holdings. This sounds like an added expense and something you shouldn't need to do, but unfortunately, if you're in this situation, it may be necessary.

To find the right private investigator, choose someone with a license and experience in matrimonial matters. When you speak with them, lay out your goals with clarity. Whether it’s tracing hidden assets or unearthing undisclosed income, precision in your mission is paramount. 

You’ll also want to know their methods. Ask them how they’re going to uncover details and privacy concerns. 

Importantly, you also want a private investigator who will stay within the bounds of the law. Your investigator’s findings must hold up in court, so any information they locate must be obtained legally.

Investigative acts for hidden assets 

Hiring a forensic accountant is a great move to uncover hidden assets. These financial bloodhounds sniff out irregularities in even the most complex financial networks. They meticulously dissect income statements, comb through bank records, and analyze tax returns to flag inconsistencies.

Digital forensics is another key area to explore. Specialists in this field will bring to light the transactions often hidden in the crevices of the digital landscape. Whether it’s cryptocurrencies, offshore online accounts, or obscured digital footprints, these experts deploy high-end methods to trace and reclaim financial information.

Ask the judge for help

Your last option is to go before a judge and ask them to demand your spouse to provide their financial disclosures. But even then, your spouse may or may not be swayed by the judge's order.

With accurate financial information on the table, it’s much easier to fairly divide marital property, retirement accounts, and similar items. It’s also easier to determine how much spousal support, if any, should be paid by either party.

What if my spouse misrepresents or omits information in their financial disclosures?

If your spouse has submitted financial disclosures but you think they're missing information, you can first request them to provide updated disclosures. If they refuse, you may be back at hiring a private investigator again.

Having a full picture of your spouse's financial situation is vital to ensuring a fair and equitable divorce. At Hello Divorce, we’re well-versed in all aspects of the divorce process. We offer affordable online divorce plans as well as online services, including advice sessions with divorce attorneys, to help you through this transition. 

Schedule a 15-minute free phone call to speak with a friendly account coordinator who can tell you more about what we offer.

Watch: Everything You Need to Know About Divorce Financial Disclosures


Should I hire a financial advisor to help me with financial disclosures?

Navigating this on your own can be daunting. Complex assets are a puzzle that demands expertise. In this case, a financial advisor can be your ally, providing clarity and precision in valuation. They dissect portfolios, evaluate business interests, and ensure that every asset is accounted for accurately.

What do I need to know about the Form E financial disclosure?

Form E requires disclosure and complete transparency from both parties. This includes information on income, assets, liabilities, and pensions. Missing information can lead to inaccurate court proceedings and possibly sanctions. 

How detailed should my financial disclosure be?

Think microscope. Each item on your financial disclosure should withstand intense scrutiny. Itemized details and full transparency are key.

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.