The Mandatory Divorce Disclosure Forms
By Orlando Divorce Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2011
Delays in Completing the Mandatory Disclosure Forms Lengthen the Divorce Process
The questions most asked by my prospective divorce clients are about how expensive it will be and how long will it take. The answer to the first question is in Family Lawyer Retainer Fees and at the bottom of this page. The answer to the second questions lies mostly (but not entirely) on how long each divorcing spouse takes to complete the forms required by the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. The longer that these disclosure forms take the more the process will be delayed.
Admittedly, many clients are initially overwhelmed by the seemingly endless paperwork requirements of a divorce. Please don’t blame your family law attorney. We just practice family law, we do not write it. Instead, refer to this list that explains the different type of disclosure documents that must be filed in a divorce action:
(1) Financial Affidavit
A couple cannot obtain a divorce judgment unless both spouses have filed and exchanged completed financial affidavits. On this document, you list your gross monthly income, net monthly income, monthly expenses, assets, and liabilities. If you earn $50,000 or more annually, you must complete its long form. Otherwise, its short form will suffice.
My clients have often grumbled about having to complete a Financial Affidavit. I always assure them that their spouse is probably just as annoyed by that and is operating under the same requirement.
In fact, the divorcing parties cannot waive this affidavit requirement even if the divorce is uncontested. Therefore, all of my clients get this document to fill out as soon as they sign with AAA Family Law. There is no reason to delay doing it.
(2) Other Mandatory Disclosures
Technically, the Financial Affidavit is the first item on the list of mandatory disclosures documents contained in Rule 12.285 of the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. However, in order not to overwhelm my clients, I only have them begin assembling the rest of these disclosure documents after they complete their Affidavit.
These documents include: (a) pay stubs (or other evidence of income), (b) the last three years of tax returns, (c) the last three months of checking account statements, (d) the last three months of credit card statements, (e) the deed or lease to your house and (f) the last three 401K or pension statements. There are other documents included in Rule 12.285 of Family Law Rules of Procedure, but the aforementioned documents are the ones most commonly produced. If a listed document does not apply to you, or you simply don't have it, you are not required to produce it.
Unlike the Financial Affidavit, the divorcing parties can waive the production of these Mandatory Disclosure documents. Realistically, in most divorces involving assets, the family law attorneys on each side will demand the production of the applicable disclosure documents before they conduct a mediation. This approach makes sense, because it would be foolish to simply take at face value what the other party lists on his or her Financial Affidavit. Thus, the quicker that you want your divorce to be resolved, the sooner you should produce the disclosure documents that you have.
(3) Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit.
This document, and the one listed below, only apply to divorces with minor children. The UCCJEA is actually much simpler than its ominous-sounding title suggests. You just list the birth dates of your children, where they have lived, and whom they have lived during with the last five years. The information contained in the UCCJEA establishes if Florida has jurisdiction over the children. In the UCCJEA you are also asked if any other cases relating to your children have been filed, and if so, what is their status.
Just like the Financial Affidavit, the UCCJEA must be completed if the divorce involves minor children. However, unlike the affidavit, only one parent, the petitioner, has to file it. Fortunately, the UCCJEA usually takes much less time to complete than the Financial Affidavit.
(4) Parenting Class Certificate
Finally, both parents must complete a parenting course prior to obtaining the final judgment of the divorce. And this requirement also can not be waived. Most, but not all, family law judges allow the parents to take the on-line class, which lasts four hours. Many of my clients found this class helpful in dealing with the inevitable parenting conflicts that arise between them and their ex-spouses.
Once my clients completes their parenting class, they receives a certificate of completion. I then file this certificate with the clerk of court. This certificate usually represents the last document that is filed prior to the final judgment, even though a parent may take the course immediately after the divorce is filed.
Additional Requests by Opposing Attorney
In addition to the mandatory documents mentioned above, frequently the opposing attorney asks for more documents and lists of questions in an Interrogatory document. This is explained in: Requests to Produce Documents, and Interrogatories In Divorce and Paternity Cases. If providing so many documents and answering so many questions does not encourage you to make up with your spouse, nothing else will.
For More Information Schedule an Initial Consultation
If you have any questions about the mandatory disclosure forms in your divorce, or about any other family law issue, please call AAA Family Law at (407) 260-6001 and schedule an initial consultation. I will listen to your description of your situation and answer any questions you have. If you require professional legal representation I will lay out a plan of legal action to protect your interests. Then I will quote you a fixed retainer fee, not an hourly rate whose total you cannot predict.
The AAA Family Law attorney retainer fees are:
Contested Divorce Up To Mediation: $2,000 to $3,000. (An additional retainer amount is set before a trial if there is a trial.)
Uncontested Divorce: $1,000 to $1,500.
To find more information on Family Law topics, please go to the Articles section.