As part of a Texas divorce, couples must divide their marital property, set up child support, and possibly resolve a request for alimony. To help with all of this, couples must disclose certain financial information. This is a critical step—and failure to fully disclose can lead to disastrous consequences.
Call Tad Nelson & Associates if you are considering a divorce. Our Galveston family law attorney can ensure that you comply with your disclosure requirements and help collect all relevant financial records.
Texas law requires that you turn over some financial information within 30 days of the day the response is filed to the divorce petition. So if you filed the original divorce petition, then these disclosures must be made 30 days after your spouse files his or her response.
Thirty days isn’t much time—especially if you were blindsided by the divorce. You need to get organized and track down various financial records. An attorney is an added benefit at helping to pull everything together.
These initial disclosures are mandatory. That means you must turn them over even if there isn’t a discovery request asking for them. Of course, you have the right to waive these financial disclosures in writing, but it’s probably best to avoid doing that.
Some required initial disclosures involve:
- Property deeds
- Liens on property
- Retirement or pension plan statements
- Employee benefit plans
- Insurance information (health, life, liability, casualty)
- Bank account statements
- Credit union statements
- Brokerage firm statements
You must go back at least two years, unless the marriage was shorter than that, in which case you must go back to the beginning of marriage.
You might also need to provide other information if spousal or child support is at issue, such as your income tax returns for the past two years. If you haven’t yet filed, then you need to provide income information, such as 1099 forms, W-2 forms, and so forth.
Why You Should Not Waive These Disclosures
As mentioned above, you can waive your right to this information. Waiver might make sense if you were married for an extremely short amount of time. Otherwise, we recommend refusing to waive.
This information is critical. Remember, as a community property state, you have a right to any asset your spouse obtained or earned while you were married. Are you really sure you know all the bank accounts your spouse has? All investment accounts?
If you don’t get these initial disclosures, then finding hidden information is hard to do. Our lawyers can go over your spouse’s financial disclosures with a fine-tooth comb and find any evidence that they are hiding assets or money.
Financial Disclosures for Spousal Support
If either spouse requests alimony (spousal maintenance), then you need to fill out a Proposed Support Decision and Information form. This document gives the judge an overview of each spouse’s financial situation. The form will request various information, such as all sources of income and liabilities, such as mortgage and credit card debts.
Under Texas law, a judge will only award maintenance if the spouse seeking it can’t provide for their minimum needs. A judge can’t make that determination until they have a complete overview of each spouse’s financial resources. It is vital that each side provide accurate and complete information to the judge.
Failure to Disclose
If you don’t disclose required information—and the judge finds out—then you have committed “fraud on the community” under Section 7.009 of the Texas Family Code. For example, your spouse might have an offshore bank account with $200,000 sitting in it. He decides not to disclose. If you find out, then the judge can take certain actions. For example, you might get more of the community property in the divorce or a financial judgment.
Failure to disclose could also invalidate an otherwise valid prenuptial agreement if one spouse did not make full and fair disclosure of assets before they signed the agreement.
This type of fraud can also lead to a referral for perjury. For this reason, you should spend time with your lawyer carefully gathering all relevant financial information and promptly update if you later realize a mistake.
Speak with Our Galveston Family Law Attorney
Divorce is so complicated that most people benefit from immediately picking up the phone and hiring an experienced lawyer. At Tad Nelson & Associates, we can get to work finding all required financial information and also reviewing your spouse’s disclosures. Where appropriate, we might serve discovery requests to uncover other information if we believe it is hidden. Call our firm today to schedule a meeting to discuss your divorce.