By Attorney Jennifer Schulte: Mandatory disclosure in a Florida divorce case is the process of giving information to the other side. Lawyers and judges all call the process “Discovery.” People often fear going through the discovery process during a divorce. They are concerned about someone else having access to their bank accounts, their credit card statements, their employment information and more. It can feel like a serious violation of privacy to have complete strangers pawing through your personal information. But it is a rule and there is really no point resisting it. The process of providing mandatory disclosure involves serving these financial information and documents on the other party within 45 days of service of the petition for dissolution of marriage or supplemental petition for modification on the respondent. Except for the financial affidavit and certain other procedural necessities, the underlying documents such as bank statements are not filed in the official court file. Most of those documents only go to the other party or their attorney.
The Basics of Mandatory Disclosure
There are two types of financial affidavits: a short form for those who have an annual gross income of under $50,000 and a long form for those who have an annual gross income $50,000 or greater. The short one is pretty easy. The long one can be a chore – but there is no way around it. There are separate mandatory disclosure requirements that apply when an individual is seeking temporary financial assistance: financial affidavit; all personal 1040 federal tax, gift tax, and intangible personal property tax returns for the past year; and paystubs or other evidence of earned income for the 3 months before the service of the financial affidavit. If you do not provide info the court will ultimate penalize you. These penalties can take the form of financial sanctions, attorney fees, or in the worst case – an order eliminating some of your legal claims. The bottom line is to comply with the rules. In the end that will ensure your case is much smoother and has a greater chance of success.
Jennifer Schulte practices paternity, divorce, and custody law in our Tampa and Orlando offices. Ms. Schulte also uses her experience as a former criminal prosecutor to help clients with criminal charges. She is available for free consultations both in person and on the phone.