At this point, we are going to assume you have filed your divorce Petition and the Summons and served filed-endorsed copies on your spouse, along with the blank Response form. We are also assuming you have completed your Proof of Service documents. The next step is to complete your “Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure”. Your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents consist of a collection of court forms. There are a total of 4 disclosure forms. The four forms are as follows:
The purpose of these four forms is to make certain everyone lays their cards on the table before entering into any settlement agreement. This is to make sure nobody is cheated when it comes to reaching a settlement agreement.
One of the key disclosure forms is called a Schedule of Assets & Debts. In this form, you list all of your assets, indicating the amount the assets are worth and whether the assets are community property or separate property. You also list all of your debts, showing how much is owed. The idea is this: If you are going to ask someone to sign a settlement agreement dividing up all the property and debts, they are entitled to know what assets exist, what those assets are worth, as well as what debts exists, and how much is owed in regards to each debt.
A second key disclosure form is called an Income & Expense Declaration. Basically, this form lists all of your income. It lists a lot of other information, but the most important information is the amount of your income. If you are going to ask someone to enter into a settlement agreement that contains provisions for child support and/or spousal support, they are entitled to know how much money you earn before they enter into any settlement agreement.
After you fill out your disclosure documents, you have to give copies to your spouse. Your spouse also has to fill out his or her own disclosure documents and give you copies. The court will generally not approve a divorce judgment until both parties have completed their disclosure documents and provided copies to the other side.
You are supposed to fill out the four disclosure forms twice, once during the initial stages of the divorce and again at the end of the divorce. When you fill out your disclosure documents at the beginning of the divorce, this is called your “Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure”. The second time you fill out the disclosure documents is at the end of the divorce. This is called your “Final Declaration of Disclosure”. Contested divorces can take months or sometimes years to complete and the value of assets and the amount of income the parties earn can change over that period of time. That is why the court prefers that you fill out both a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure at the beginning of the divorce and a Final Declaration of Disclosure at the end.
You absolutely must fill out your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. Filling it out is mandatory. However, you can waive filling out the Final Declaration of Disclosure. If the divorce is uncontested, the divorce is not going to take a long time to complete. You can prepare all of the necessary divorce paperwork in a matter of days or weeks. The information on the forms about your assets and income won’t change much from the time you do your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure at the beginning of the divorce until the time you sign the settlement papers at the end. Thus, most people are going to fill out only their Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents and then sign a stipulation waiving the exchange of their Final Declarations of Disclosure. The “Stipulation And Waiver of Final Declaration of Disclosure” is FL-144. You can find a copy of the FL-144 stipulation in our Court Forms Database. We discuss the FL-144 form in more detail in another section of this website. [See “Judgment“, then sub-topic, “Additional Forms“]. If your divorce takes months or years to complete, then you may decide you don’t want to waive the Final Declaration of Disclosure documents.
Your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents should be completed and served on your spouse within 60 days of the date you filed your Petition (FL-100) with the court. Although you have 60 days, it is generally best to complete your disclosure documents as soon as you can.