What is the importance of the Financial Disclosure Statement during a divorce?

What is the importance of the Financial Disclosure Statement during a divorce?

Scenario:  You are appearing before a judge for your contested hearing. The issues before the court are the division of marital assets and debts. The opposing party has hired legal counsel who has helped them to provide a list of exhibits to the court, including a financial disclosure statement.  You experience a sense of worry as you realize that you have not prepared a financial disclosure statement. 

In this situation, you have likely sabotaged your ability to make a persuasive argument before the court in relation to your marital estate.

In Wisconsin, and specifically pursuant to section 767.127 of the State statutes, there is a requirement that all parties, “furnish on standard forms required by the court, full disclosure of all assets owned in full or in part by either party separately or by the parties jointly.” Furthermore, as stated in section 767.127(2), your financial disclosure form must be filed within 90 days from service of the summons (or filing of joint petition) or at a different time as ordered by the court.

Being ill-prepared and failing to abide by these rules can lead to unfortunate consequences. Absent any stipulated agreements or final court orders, the single most important document in a contested divorce (as related to the marital estate) is the financial disclosure statement.  This vital statement is a snapshot of your marital estate and includes what you own, how you own them, and what their value is.

What are the consequences of not filing a financial disclosure statement?

Not filing your sworn financial statement can drastically affect you during a court proceeding. Section 767.127(4) states, “If a party fails to timely file a complete disclosure statement, the court may accept as accurate any information provided in the statement of the other party or obtained under s.49.22 (2m) by the department or the county child support agency under s. 59.52(5).” 

The following example demonstrates how impactful this can be.

If you have not filed your sworn financial statement, and proceed to testify as to values of certain assets (home, car, collections, etc.), the court may choose not to consider your position. Even worse, if the other party (who filed a financial statement) also testifies to the value of those same assets, the court could accept their value as true. This could result in a higher or lower value associated with these assets, which could create an inequitable balance of the marital estate.  

It is imperative therefore that you file a financial disclosure statement, as required under the Wisconsin statute.  To understand this fundamental requirement, we encourage you to contact J.G. Law LLC. Not only can we represent you through the divorce process, we can ensure there will be no need for you to worry when it comes to your court proceedings.  To learn more about the financial disclosure statement, or any family law matter, call us today at (920) 383-1116 to schedule your free consultation.