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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

5 Worst Divorce Mistakes - MISTAKE #4: "Do I have to tell the court about EVERYTHING?"

MISTAKE #4: FAILING TO MAKE FULL DISCLOSURE

Another costly mistake that many parties make in divorce cases is failing to disclose all of their assets or debts. As we have previously stated, divorce is about the break-up of a business partnership. If we don't know what went into the partnership, how can we split it up appropriately and completely.

Whether through laziness or deceitfulness, parties often fail to put all of their information on their Rule 401 Financial Statement. Financial Statements, however, are signed under the pains and penalties of perjury as TRUE, ACCURATE, and COMPLETE statements of all of your income, expenses, assets and liabilities. The consequences of lying or filing an incomplete Financial Statement are significant, and could include a Judge finding you to be an unreliable witness at trial (i.e. take all relevant testimony from your spouse only). In addition, if a settlement is reached in your case and it is later discovered that a particular asset was left off your Financial Statement, the settlement could be voided for fraud, and that asset awarded to your spouse.

Not taking the form seriously is such a typical mistake that one of the most common ways that a lawyer will cross-examine a party in a divorce case is to compare different financial statements filed during the course of the case. Carelessness often leads to inconsistencies that can make you look like a liar.

Even worse, parties that think that they can hide assets, are often found out. Not only is all of their testimony suspect from that point on, the Judge is then highly motivated to award an uneven share of the known assets to the other party in the event there are other hidden assets.

In short, take the Financial Statement seriously and don't lie. Full disclosure is the key to a reasonable and quick settlement. Failure to disclose will almost certainly ensure drawn out and expensive litigation.

Click here to view Mistake #3.

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