Full Financial Disclosure - California Divorce Laws Require It

Full Financial Disclosure – California Divorce Laws Require It

Emma wanted to divorce her husband, Chaz, for many reasons. He was unfaithful, emotionally abusive, and just an all-around jerk. But Emma was particularly happy as she filed her divorce petition because she would finally know Chaz’s complete financial picture. For many years, Emma had been held hostage when it came to money because of Chaz’s secretive ways. Now, both she and Chaz each would have to file a full financial disclosure under California law. But if he hid his money, would Emma and her divorce lawyer have any options?

What does “full financial disclosure” really mean?

During a divorce, the couple’s marital assets and debts are divided. But you cannot come up with a realistic property division unless you know what property and debts are involved.

“Full financial disclosure” means just what it says. Both parties to the marriage have to provide a complete picture of what they own and what they owe. Since California is a community property state, most income, assets, and debts acquired during a marriage belong to both parties – but there are exceptions. In fact, property division is complicated and should not be attempted without help from an experienced divorce attorney.

What does the disclosure of financial information work?

First, you serve your preliminary declaration of disclosure on your spouse. You do not have to file your financial disclosures with your divorce petition. However, you must serve them no later than 60 days afterward. The disclosures are not filed with the court, but you will file a Declaration of Disclosure and some other documents with the court that prove you took this step.

Your spouse will serve his or her preliminary disclosures on you.

As your divorce case proceeds, you might need to file a final disclosure.

The information submitted in your disclosures will be used for several reasons, including calculating property division. Child support and spousal support might also be affected.

How will I find money and assets omitted from my spouse’s financial disclosures?

If you and your lawyer feel information is missing, you might have to hire a forensic accountant to investigate. Also, watch for any documents, social media posts, or other signs that your spouse has hidden assets from you.

Are there any consequences for withholding information?

Absolutely! The judge can set aside your property settlement or even cancel it. If your divorce has already ended before you learn of the withheld information, the judge might reopen your case to review the new information.

People who lie on their disclosures may be unpleasantly surprised when the judge orders them to hand over the withheld assets. Finally, the withholder of information might be forced to pay the innocent spouse’s attorney’s fees.

Both Parties Need to Make Full Financial Disclosure in a Divorce

Talk to an experienced California divorce attorney today. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Please call us at 415-293-8314 to discuss your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.
Getting a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Getting a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Before reading this article, please remember that your Internet activity can be monitored. Make sure you clear your browser history after reading or after viewing any site related to domestic violence. If you or your children are currently in danger, please call 9-1-1- or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Also, please contact an attorney about getting a domestic violence restraining order. The following blog gives you some vital information about these restraining orders.

Understanding Domestic Violence

We typically think domestic violence only occurs between people who are dating or married – in other words, intimate partners. However, the scope is much broader and includes:

  • Former intimate partners,
  • Someone with whom you have had a child, and
  • Close relatives, including parents, children, brothers, sisters, and so on.

Also, the term domestic violence does not exclusively refer to serious physical injuries. In fact, the following behavior is considered domestic violence:

  • Intentionally or recklessly hurting you,
  • Threatening or promising to hurt you,
  • Sexual assault,
  • Harassing, stalking, disturbing the peace, or destroying your personal property.

Have you experienced any of the behavior listed above? It might be time to consider getting a domestic violence restraining order.

The Courts and Your Domestic Violence Restraining Order

California family courts offer avenues through which you can get relief from your situation. For example, domestic violence restraining orders can restrain someone from:

  • Contacting you and the people close to you;
  • Going to the places that you frequent, including work, home, and school;
  • Having a gun;
  • Withholding child support or spousal support;
  • Making financial or insurance decisions that affect you;
  • Refusing to return your property.

Your domestic violence restraining order cannot terminate your marriage. You will have to file a divorce petition to do that.

What’s Next?

The process for getting domestic violence restraining order is as follows:

  • Ask the court for the order.
  • If the judge grants your request, your first order will be temporary until a hearing can be held.
  • Your request is served on the person who is harming you.
  • You and the other party appear at a court hearing, where the judge decides whether to continue or cancel the domestic restraining order.

Always keep copies of court orders. Also, we gently encourage you to have an attorney represent you throughout the court proceedings.

Call to Discuss Your Divorce and Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Divorce is stressful. Domestic violence ramps up the distress, but you don’t have to do this alone. Your legal representative can walk you through the divorce process, especially if you need a domestic violence restraining order.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

How a Forensic Accountant Can Help with Your Divorce Settlement

How a Forensic Accountant Can Help with Your Divorce Settlement

After 12 years of marriage, Blake usually knew when his wife Amanda was lying. Or, at least, he knew enough to be suspicious. The problem was proving it. Blake was especially concerned because he had just filed for divorce and knew he needed help. He and his attorney considered all the reasons they might want to hire a forensic accountant.

Analyzing and Corroborating Financial Information

A forensic accountant has the training and experience to do a deep dive into your finances. He or she can analyze your spouse’s financial disclosures and other property-related records more thoroughly than you can. They know what should be in the record and what should not be.

Identifying and Locating Hidden Assets

For example, many spouses try to hide assets from their spouses during a divorce. A forensic accountant is adept at searching and finding property that might otherwise be overlooked.

Untangling Business Interests

Business assets are often difficult to divide during the property division phase of a divorce. Experts like a forensic accountant can give you a clearer picture of how much a business is worth in terms of community property or separate property.

Calculating Potential Child Support and Spousal Support

It is necessary to understand the parties’ finances before agreeing on child support and spousal support. If the parties cannot agree, a family court judge could use your forensic accountant’s reports when calculating support payments.

Performing Traces to Characterize Property

Separate property belongs to only one spouse. Community property belongs to both spouses. However, sometimes the situation is murky, and it becomes difficult to decide whether property is separate, community, or quasi-community. Forensic accountants might have to trace back through financial records to determine how much of an asset should be divided between the parties.

Assisting and Advising Legal Counsel

Even the most experienced divorce attorney needs expert advice sometimes. Your forensic accountant provides an extra level of scrutiny to financial affairs, leaving your attorney free to deal with the legal issues.

Reporting and Testifying

Finally, your forensic accountant can be invaluable when it comes time to present his or her findings to the court. A well-written report based on factual evidence might go a long way toward helping your attorney get the best property division possible.

Let’s Talk About Forensic Accountants and Your Divorce Settlement

The attorneys at The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are well-versed in divorce and the dissolution of registered domestic partnerships. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to South California Coast.
Postnuptial Agreements in California Divorces

Postnuptial Agreements in California Divorces

Jan and Mike married when they were young and too in love to think about complicated things like finances and assets. After a few years, they started considering asking their attorneys to draft a document that addressed their new-found concerns. As they reviewed drafts of the document, Jan had some unwelcome thoughts about whether postnuptial agreements would hold up in a California divorce. She needed to learn more.

What are postnuptial agreements?

Unlike premarital agreements, these contracts are made by an already-married couple. Such agreements typically address property issues and the division of assets. 

Typically, postnuptial agreements must meet requirements set out by California contract law. For example, the agreement:

  • Must be in writing, and
  • Must be signed voluntarily by both spouses before a notary public.

Also, both parties must be honest and fully disclose their property interests when drafting the agreement.

Why would a couple want to sign this type of agreement?

There are several reasons, including:

  • One spouse has more assets than the other.
  • Either husband or wife expects to inherit or otherwise come into a lot of money.
  • One or both parties want to protect their assets from the other.
  • The couple cannot agree on how to handle their assets, including savings, investment accounts, and retirement accounts.

However, child custody and support issues cannot be addressed in such agreements.

Do courts recognize postnuptial agreements in California divorces?

Premarital agreements are recognized by the court as soon as they are signed. This does not mean every provision will hold up in court, but at least the agreement is acknowledged. On the other hand, postnuptial agreements are not valid until they have been presented to a family court and accepted by a judge.

California law does not directly address postnuptial agreements. However, California Family Code Section 1500 states:

“The property rights of spouses prescribed by statute may be altered by a premarital agreement or other marital property agreement.” [emphasis added]

So, provisions regarding property in postnuptial agreements might be upheld in court. The exception will be if the provisions violate the law in some other way.

Call to learn more about postnuptial agreements.

Postnuptial agreements could either complicate a California divorce or make it easier. Have you and your spouse signed one? If so, and you now want to dissolve your marriage, contact an experienced California divorce lawyer for advice.

Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys. Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.