Do we have to list our assets and debts and outline our child care terms if we agree on everything for our divorce?

A common assumption of divorcing couples is that if they agree on everything involved with their divorce they need not list their division of assets, debts and child issues. This assumption often leads to post-divorce conflict that does not give the judge any information with which to rule. This article discusses this dangerous assumption and gives reasons why divorcing couples should carefully and thoroughly list their assets and debts and create a detailed child care plan.

Online divorce sites, such as OurDivorceAgreement.com, guide you to list your assets/debts, even if you have already physically divided them or agree on their division.  Let us give you the down side of doing not doing so. 

You know how you want to divide things but the judge in your case does not.  How does the judge know how marital assets are to be divided unless you tell him/her.  If you don't specify things and there is a dispute down the road about something, how does the court decide whose it is unless you have spelled it out in your Agreement.

Same is true with child issues, if you have minor children together.  Even if you agree on everything regarding the children now, this may not continue down the road (especially true if/when new significant others enter the picture).  If you have nothing detailed regarding the care of your children, how can you assert your rights if the other spouse is no longer cooperating with your informal "agreement?"  The judge has nothing to enforce.



As an example, let's say there is an aluminum fishing boat that the husband bought during the marriage that he is storing at Uncle Bob's, but they forget about it during the divorce negotiations.  If the item is not mentioned in the divorce, but the wife remembers it after the divorce is final and says, "Hey, I want half of the value of that boat or I want more in value of the stuff we divided," the couple is in a pickle because the boat is not mentioned in the divorce Agreement or decree.  How would something like that have to be settled?  Probably by litigation that could well exceed the value of the boat. 

The default assumption in a divorce is that all marital assets and debts are split equally.  Whether you or your spouse "have" an asset is not the issue.  Each of you have a claim to 50% of the total.  To keep disagreements from arising down the road, the safest thing is to spend a few minutes telling the court exactly who is taking what.  That way, there is no question later on. 

One more example...We had a couple who did not want to list household furnishings.  He had possession of the big screen TV.  Later on, she decided that she wanted it.  Whose is it if they didn't specify who is getting it in the divorce. 

Finally, the court may not accept your divorce agreement if you do not list and divide your assets and debts.  Remember, the court assumes that everything accumulated during the marriage belongs to both.  Just because it is sitting in an account with your name on it, doesn't mean it's yours when you're married.  Please check this out with your attorney when you have them review your document.

Our site gives a quick way to list the assets/debts in simple web forms set up by category.  If you don't have an item in a category (i.e. securities, etc.) you simply check a box that says "we have no securities" and then our site automatically merges your data into an Agreement acceptable by the Court.  So if you take a few minutes with our site, it could save you months and thousands of dollars down the road.  With your property situation, it shouldn't take long.  We then link you to the state-specific forms needed to divorce.  

Most states require a financial disclosure statement from husband and wife, which is a sworn statement of your assets and liabilities.  This is taken so one spouse does not hide assets of the marriage.  There is then a penalty for not disclosing assets.

Some states may waive this requirement in certain circumstances such as not having minor children together.  We can only recommend that you do certain things based on our experience.  If you definitely do not wish to do this section, contact the clerk of the divorce court in your jurisdiction and see if they require "financial disclosure statements" for divorcing couples in your circumstances.  If they do not, you may do as you wish.

For more information, contact mark.stein@ourdivorceagreement.com or +1 502 897 3020.

(Nothing in this article should be considered to be "legal advice."  An online divorce site can give you the tools to complete your divorce but, there is no substitute for sound legal advice from a lawyer from your jurisdiction looking at your situation strictly from your point of view when seeking a divorce.)

3 comments: (+add yours?)

infolorettahutchinson said...

You have share great information about divorce and financial assets, This is a very enlightening article.

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