Divorce can be a whirlwind of emotions, and sorting through finances adds another layer of complexity.  Especially when it comes to dividing property, things can get messy.  While you and your ex might reach an agreement on how to split everything up, there’s a crucial step many forget: full disclosure.

Here’s why being completely transparent about your finances is key to a smooth and fair property division:

Transparency is King (or Queen)

California law takes fairness in divorce seriously. To ensure both spouses get their rightful share, there’s a requirement for complete financial disclosure. This means laying everything on the table using specific forms like the Declaration of Disclosure (FL-140) and the Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142).  Think of these like a financial roadmap, giving you and your ex (and the court, if needed) a clear picture of your financial situation.

Knowledge is Power (and Protection)

Disclosure isn’t just about informing your ex. It safeguards you too!  By being upfront about assets and debts, you eliminate the chance of one spouse hiding things to get a bigger slice of the pie.  Plus, it gives the court a solid foundation for making a fair property division if you can’t reach an agreement yourselves.  If you skip disclosure, the entire agreement could be thrown out, even if you both thought it was fair at the time.

A Cautionary Tale: The Case of the Missing Millions

The story of the Marriage of Rossi (2001) shows just how serious things can get when assets are hidden. Ms. Rossi won a million-dollar lottery prize but kept it mum during the divorce, claiming it was separate property.  Big mistake!  The court ruled that her failure to disclose meant her husband got the entire jackpot.  This case highlights that even assets you think might be separate need to be brought to light.

The Bottom Line: Don’t Skip This Step!

Open communication through disclosure is a non-negotiable part of divorce. It protects both spouses and ensures a fair division of marital property.  Remember the Rossi case?  Don’t let that be your story.  If you’re going through a divorce, prioritize transparency when dividing property.  A consulting attorney helping you complete disclosure documents correctly will be worth every dollar spent. He or she navigates you through this important paperwork and makes sure you understand your rights and responsibilities.

Just remember, the law requires a fair split, and that can only happen if both parties play with all their cards face-up.


Explore your no-court divorce options and the prenuptial process in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County and schedule a confidential consultation with divorce lawyer Jeanne Browne. With more than 30 years of experience helping couples divorce without court through mediation and collaborative practice, she will give you compassionate legal advice on your issues related to family law, divorce, and prenuptial/postnuptial agreements. Click here to schedule a meeting.

Please Note: Articles posted on this website are for general information purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice. Every situation is unique and we recommend you reach out for a private conversation about your specific circumstances and concerns by booking a consultation.