Financial Discovery in Divorce Cases
The family law rules of procedure require financial disclosure in any dissolution of marriage (divorce), with very few exceptions. A financial affidavit must be filed unless there is a valid prenuptial agreement that has resolved the financial issues between the parties, or the dissolution is uncontested and there was service of process by publication.
The preparation of the financial affidavit is extremely important as the credibility of the financial affidavit may affect the entire case. The court is free to use ordinary common sense and reason to accept or reject the stated living expenses in the financial affidavit.
The Law offices of West Palm Beach divorce attorney, Stephen J. Press, has over four decades experience in the preparation of financial discovery and in the detection of hidden or dissipated assets.Hidden or Dissipated Assets
During the breakdown of the marriage, one or both parties may be marshaling assets and income in preparation for hiring a lawyer, filing a divorce case and renting an apartment. Hidden in dissipated assets are often a reality. Adultery may be an emotional issue, but under Florida law the issue is dissipation of marital assets. If it can be established that a spouse has spent honey or made gifts to a paramour, the court will consider this matter waste and award one half of the amount to the innocent spouse. When this is suspected we will look for marital funds used: travel agent records, credit card charge records, long-distance telephone records and canceled checks.Common Mistakes in Preparing Financial Affidavits
The most common mistake that clients make when preparing the financial affidavit is to take weekly expenses and multiply it by four to get the monthly amount. Since there are 4.3 weeks per month an amount calculated by multiplying by four will be less than what is the actual monthly amount. A second common mistake is to put items that are not really actually paid but are items that clients feel he or she should have had during the marriage. The financial affidavit should not be a "wish list" or inflated. Once again, and inaccurate financial affidavit effects the judges you of the clients credibility in the entire case.Methods of Financial Discovery
In addition to mandatory disclosure, a party may obtain financial information from the other party by several methods:
(1) Request for production of documents. A party may request another party to produce a list of financial documents that are in the party's possession or control i.e. tax returns, bank records, credit card records.
(2) Family law interrogatories. These are written questions proposed to the other party requiring written responses under oath.
(3) Depositions. This permits the other party or potential witnesses to orally questioned under oath concerning issues in the case.
(4) Subpoenas. Third-party records can be obtained by serving subpoenas on third-party i.e. employment records and bank records.
At the law offices of West Palm Beach divorce attorney, Stephen J. Press, we utilize any and all discovery benefits to ensure that a complete financial picture of the other party is obtained. We always keep in mind the cost of such discovery and only use it when it is necessary and cost-efficient. In high asset divorce cases it may be necessary to retain a forensic accountant or other financial expert such as a real estate appraiser or business appraiser. We will always consult with our client when mapping out a discovery plan.Contact a West Palm Beach Divorce Attorney
If you are contemplating a divorce or have been served with divorce papers is important that you consult with a highly experienced divorce attorney. Please contact the Law offices of West Palm Beach divorce attorney, Stephen J. Press, at (561) 833-2772 or contact us online for a free consultation.