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Financial information  disclosure during mediation is often a topic of much concern to my potential mediation clients. It goes back to the trust issues that I blogged about last week.  Many couples do not share their financial information during marriage. When a divorce arises, they are each left to wonder if the other spouse will be transparent with their finances. You can rest assured that the law makers are aware of these concerns and have made laws to help protect you.

Under California law, spouses are fiduciaries to one another. A fiduciary relationship is one in which one party has obligations to protect the financial interest of another party. The specific obligations depend on what the fiduciary’s responsibilities are. For married couples, the fiduciary obligations are to disclose any information that you have regarding each other’s assets and debts and to not cheat the other half of the community out of his or her equal share.  In order to ensure these obligations are met, the law requires that each spouse in divorce proceedings complete mandatory financial disclosures both at the beginning and at the end of the case. These disclosures state under oath all of the financial information that one spouse has and includes documents to substantiate the statements made by each spouse.

Whether you litigate or mediate, the financial disclosure requirement exists. This is because in order to get divorced in California you must file paperwork with the court that states under oath that the financial disclosures requirements have been complied with. Furthermore, if it is found out that the disclosure requirement was not met, the injured spouse can seek relief from the Judgment.

If you are considering whether to mediate or litigate, you can rest assured that you will be entitled to financial information that is necessary in order to make a knowing and intelligent division of assets. In mediation, however, the cost of preparing the financial disclosures is usually significantly less as mediation encourages informal sharing of information.  At the Jarratt Law Firm, we use an online collaboration space to share documents so that each party has access to the relevant financial documents at any given time. Together we make divorce less painful–emotionally, physically, and financially. If you are ready to make that first step, schedule your Divorce Mediation Orientation. 


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