Preliminary Financial Disclosures / by Cassandra Hearn

The commencement of a divorce involves a lot of financial work.  Some of this work includes the exchange of financial information between the spouses. “Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure” (frequently called PDODs) are a mandatory part of this process.  If the parties fail to complete this step, then the court will not grant the divorce. 

The Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure are comprised of four separate court forms.  These include the Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150) and the Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142).  The other two forms confirm that the spouse filling out the forms has filled them out completely and honestly, and also that the forms have been provided to the other spouse.  Because California is a community property state, the purpose of these forms is to ensure that all property that is considered community property is accounted for and can be properly divided in the divorce, pursuant to California law.  California property division law provides that all community property will be equally divided between the spouses.  It is therefore crucial that the forms are filled out completely in order for both spouses to receive their fair division of community assets and debts.

There can be consequences if either party provides false or incomplete information on these forms.  First, as stated above, without these forms, there will be no divorce.  Second, if both spouses omit certain items, then those items may not be included in the final divorce division, to the detriment of one or both spouses.  For example, if there is an old credit card debt that the parties have both omitted from their forms, then the court will have no reason to know it exists, and will therefore not divide the debt in the divorce.  This may leave one or both spouses holding the bag after the divorce is final.

The most severe consequences can come into play when one or both spouses intentionally lie on their disclosures.  Courts have enforcement powers that they will not hesitate to use against spouses who try to cheat the other spouse out of a fair division of property or debts.  These consequences may include receiving a reduced portion of community assets, paying the attorney’s fees of the other party, sanctions, and possibly contempt.

It is important that you have an attorney to assist you in properly completing your preliminary financial disclosure.  Call us today for an appointment at 619-800-0384 to talk about your divorce and the necessary steps.