In California, each party to a divorce is required to complete a set of mandatory documents entitled “Preliminary Declaration of Disclosures” prior to any Judge or Commissioner granting their divorce. These documents include an Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150), Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142), Declaration of Disclosure (FL-140), and a Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration (FL-141). Our 12-year veteran legal document assistant (once referred to as paralegals), Shelley VanRenselaar, gives a brief ‘how to’ on completing, filing and serving these documents so that you can move on toward finalizing your divorce. The preparation and exchange of these documents are a vital part of the divorce process, as the documents require each party to disclose all of their income, assets and debts (whether separate or community) to each other. Either party that is found to have purposefully omitted an asset or debt is subject to legal consequences.
Income and Expense Declaration
Let’s start with the Income and Expense Declaration. This is the document that tells both the court and opposing party/counsel all about your average monthly income and expenses. It will need to be as up to date as possible and include at least your last two months of recent pay statements. Your expenses don’t need to be exact; the best ballpark figures that you can manage are fine. If you are self-employed, you will need to include your most recent Schedule K from your tax returns. Make sure that, prior to filing with the court or serving on the other party/attorney, you redact (block out) your social security number or any other sensitive identifying information that you do not want to become a part of public record. Once you have finalized the document, make two copies: one to take to court for filing, and one copy to include in your disclosure packet that you will send to the other party. Note: while this document is filed with the court and therefore “public record,” it’s not easily accessible.
Declaration of Disclosure
The Declaration of Disclosure is your next form. This is a pretty simple and straightforward form. This document indicates that you have done both your Schedule of Assets and Debts and Income and Expense Declaration and have sent them to the other party. You’ll need to attach your last two years of tax returns before serving this document on the other party. Again, you will want to redact any sensitive information before finalizing this set of documents. Make a copy of this document and all attachments, and include them in your disclosure packet to send to the other party or their lawyer. This document does not get filed with the court.
Schedule of Assets and Debts
The next document, and the most complex, is the Schedule of Assets and Debts. This is the document that lays out all of your assets and debts, both community and separate. It is long and asks for a lot of information. You will want to fill it our as completely as possible, including everything that you can think of, and the supporting documentation for each item you list. Remember to redact all sensitive information that you don’t want the other party to have. Once you have gathered all the information for this document, make a copy and place it with your disclosure packet. Note: this document gets exchanged but is NOT filed with the court.
Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration
(say that 5 times fast)
The last and final document is entitled Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration. Though it has an overly long, redundant name, this is a pretty simple “check the box” form. It tells the Court that you have prepared and served your mandatory Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents. Once you have filled out this document, you will make two copies of it: one to take to court and one to send to the other party or their counsel.
Now that you have filled everything out and made copies, you are ready to serve and file! A copy of each document should be mailed or hand delivered to the opposing party. Your remaining copies can go to the court for filing.