Welcome to FreeDivorce.com.
Christina: This is Christina.
Ed: This is Ed. Today, are going to talk about the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents. At this point, we are assuming you have filed your divorce Petition and the Summons and served your spouse. The next step in the divorce process is to complete your “Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure” documents. Completion of the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents is mandatory.
Ed: Christina, will you please explain what is a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure?
Christina: A Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents consist of a collection of four court forms. The forms are as follows:
- Declaration of Disclosure, which is FL-140.
- Schedule of Assets and Debts, which is FL-142.
- Income and Expense Declaration, which is FL-150.
- Declaration Regarding Service, which is FL-141.
Ed: What is the purpose of the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure?
Christina: The purpose of these four forms is to make certain everyone lays their cards on the table before entering into any settlement agreement. The forms are designed to force both parties to disclose information about assets, debts, and income. The courts require both parties to fill out these disclosure forms to ensure that nobody is cheated when it comes to reaching a settlement agreement.
Ed: How do the forms force parties to disclose information about assets and debts?
Christina: One of the key disclosure forms is called a Schedule of Assets & Debts. On this form, you list all of your assets, indicating the amount each asset is 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 your spouse 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 exist, and how much is owed in regards to each debt.
Ed: How do the disclosure forms force parties to disclose information about their income?
Christina: 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 your spouse 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 sign any settlement agreement.
Ed: What do you do with your disclosure forms after you fill them out?
Christina: After you fill out your preliminary declaration of disclosure documents, you are required 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.
Ed: Do you fill out the disclosure forms once or more than once?
Christina: You are supposed to fill out the 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 wants parties to fill out a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure at the beginning of the divorce and a Final Declaration of Disclosure at the end.
Ed: Can parties waive filling out and exchanging these disclosure forms?
Christina: You absolutely must fill out your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. Filling it out is mandatory. However, you and your spouse 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.
Ed: When do you have to fill out your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure forms?
Christina: Your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents should be completed and served on your spouse within 60 days of the date you filed your divorce Petition with the court. Although you have 60 days, it is generally best to complete your disclosure documents as soon as you can.
Ed: Let’s briefly go over the four forms that make up the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. What was the first form again?
Christina: The first form that makes up your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure is the FL-140, which is a one-page form. It is like a cover sheet. You check some boxes, answer a few questions, and attach copies of your state and federal income tax returns for the past two years.
Ed: Would you briefly describe the second form.
Christina: The second form is the Schedule of Assets & Debts, which is FL-142. This is a four-page form on which you will list all assets and all debts, indicating the value of each asset and how much is owed on each debt. You also indicate whether the asset or debt is community property or separate property.
Ed: What is the third form?
Christina: The third form that makes up your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure is the Income & Expense Declaration, which is FL-150. This is a four-page form. On page one, you will provide information about your employment, education, and tax filings. On page two, you will provide information about your income. On page three you will list information about your expenses. On page four, you will provide information about various other matters.
Ed: What is the fourth form?
Christina: After you have completed the three forms I have just discussed, the FL-140, the FL-142, and the FL-150, you need to make one copy of each of the completed forms and give the copies to your spouse. After you have given your spouse the copies, you can complete the final form that makes up the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. The final form is your Declaration Regarding Service, which is FL-141. This is a one-page form that confirms to the court that you completed your disclosure forms and gave a copy to your spouse.
Ed: Are these forms difficult to fill out?
Christina: Some of the forms are straightforward and some are confusing. For those of you who want additional help with the Declaration of Disclosure forms, we offer Video Guides packages you can access from our FreeDivorce.com homepage. The guides are offered at a nominal cost which helps us offset the cost of producing and hosting them.
If you elect to purchase the Declaration of Disclosure video guides package, you will get access to four instructional videos. One video guide shows you how to fill out the Income & Expense Declaration. One shows you how to fill out the Schedule of Assets and Debts. One shows you how to fill out the Declaration of Disclosure cover page and the fourth video shows you how to fill out the Declaration Regarding Service form. The video guides walk you through each court form, line-by-line, providing valuable tips and information on how to fill out each form to your advantage. Those explanations will be useful when making decisions about what to write down on the forms and which boxes to check.
Ed: Do I have to buy the “Declaration of Disclosure” video package in order to get access to the four disclosure forms.
Christina: No. All four of the Declaration of Disclosure forms are absolutely free in our court forms database. You can go to our database, pull up each form, complete each form, and then print them. We make the Declaration of Disclosure video package available at a nominal cost to simplify and clarify the process of filling out these forms.
Ed: Since both parties are required to fill out the Declaration of Disclosure forms if I am going through a divorce after I fill out my disclosure forms, can I tell my spouse to use this website to access the disclosure forms so they can fill out their own forms?
Christina: Absolutely. Tell them to watch this video before they fill out their forms.
Ed: Can I get a divorce judgment without filling out my Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure forms?
Christina: Both you and your spouse must fill out Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents. The court wants to know that each party has provided the other party with full disclosure of assets, debts, and income before the court will approve any settlement and issue a judgment. The only exception is going to be a “true default” case.
If your case is going to be a “true default” case where your spouse is not cooperating with you at all and basically ignoring the entire court process, then your spouse obviously is not going to be filling out their own Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. In a “true default” case, only the Petitioner fills out a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure.
Ed: Do I file my Declaration of Disclosure documents with the court after I fill them out?
Christina: Your FL-141, which is the cover sheet, and your FL-142, which is the Schedule of Assets & Debts, are not filed with the court. The FL-150, which is the Income & Expense Declaration, and the FL-141, which is the Declaration Regarding Service, are filed with the court.