Divorce is never an easy decision. After many years building your future with another person, you will now have to separate your social, emotional, and even financial life from your spouse. This can take time, and especially where the marriage has been going on for a long time, can be complicated. There will be many issues during your divorce, such as who pays the bills and who will be the primary custodian of the children, and financial issues are often the crux of many contested divorces. Financial disclosures are an essential stage in a divorce to make sure property is properly identified and divided and also that support is accurately set, where applicable.
During a Minnesota divorce, the parties will be required to make financial disclosures to each other. These requests often come during a process called “discovery.” Discovery may be in writing or in person, which are called “depositions.” Both spouses will be required to fully and accurately disclose the existence and location of all of their assets, regardless of whether they believe those assets are separate property and therefore not subject to division in the divorce case. The reason for these disclosures is to ensure that the division of property made during the divorce is complete and final. In addition to needing to disclose during discovery, the parties both have an obligation to make sure that the final order or settlement contains a clear and complete accounting and division of all assets and debts. This means that neither party is permitted to simply keep silent about the existence of an asset. Both parties are under an affirmative duty to make these financial disclosures even if the other side does not ask the question directly.
If either party fails to make a full financial disclosure, the repercussions can be severe. A party can return to court and request that the divorce case be reopened in order for the judge to divide up the asset that was not fully disclosed at the time of the final hearing. If the court determines that one spouse fraudulently and intentionally concealed the existence of the asset, that party may be penalized by losing the entire value of the asset to the other party, in addition to potential legal fees.