Marriage is similar to a business when it comes to the assets and obligations acquired during the marriage; so when the marriage ends, public policy favors the full and complete disclosure of the community estate in order to reduce the adversarial nature of dissolution actions. There are two types of disclosure mandated in family law proceedings: preliminary declaration of disclosure and final declaration of disclosure. Although both disclosure declarations consist of the same forms, they differ in the following categories: the timing for exchange, the detail of disclosure and the remedy for failing to disclose.
Parties are required to serve a preliminary declaration of disclosure within 60 days of filing the Petition or Response. Although this time can be extended by mutual agreement or court order, the goal is to identify all assets and obligations at the onset of the case so that both parties understand the extent of the community estate. Your matter will not be allowed to proceed to trial until proof of this exchange has been filed with the court.
Parties shall serve a final declaration of disclosure 45 days before the first assigned trial date or before or at time of agreement for final resolution. Unlike the preliminary declaration of disclosure, the final declaration of disclosure shall include all material facts and information concerning the characterization and valuation of assets and obligations including income and expenses.
The obligation to make a full and complete disclosure of all community assets and obligations is so serious that failure to disclose may be grounds to set aside any future judgment except in limited circumstances including summary dissolution and default judgments. Therefore, it is important to spend time reviewing the necessary information and providing the most accurate and current information.
In addition, while the service of the preliminary declaration is mandatory, the parties may knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waive the service of the final declaration of disclosure so long as they affirm the preliminary declaration of disclosure is complete and accurate. However, there are some circumstances where one party served his or her preliminary declaration of disclosure but the other party has failed to comply with his or her obligation. Here, the complying party may seek court intervention and request the following relief: 1) file a motion to compel; 2) file a motion for an order preventing the non complying party from presenting evidence on issues; 3) file a motion to grant the complying party’s voluntary waiver of receipt of the noncomplying party’s
preliminary and final disclosures; and/or 4) request monetary sanctions.
It only takes one piece of paper to get married in California but thousands of pages to get divorced. If you need assistance completing these forms or with any aspect of your dissolution of marriage action, please contact the Law Office of Shannon R. Loeser for assistance.
Shannon R. Loeser, Esq.
Certified Family Law Specialist
28202 Cabot Road, Suite 520
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Tel: (949) 392-5050