Divorce Disclosure and Discovery

Divorce Disclosure and Discovery

Almost everyone values their privacy. Nevertheless, you must normally make certain disclosures in divorce proceedings, whether you like it or not.

If you have minor children, these disclosures frequently involve child support and child custody issues as well. 

For reasons of confidentiality, it’s best to resolve your divorce disputes out of court. That is not always possible, however.

Required Divorce Disclosures in California

Required Divorce Disclosures in California

The divorcing spouses must deliver the required disclosures to each other under the auspices of the family court. The spouses need not turn these disclosures over to the court itself, except for a notification proving that the spouse has delivered its required disclosures to the other spouse. 

Disclosure Timeline

Normally, the petitioner (the spouse who initially filed the divorce complaint) must deliver all required disclosures to the other spouse within 60 days of filing the divorce petition. The respondent (the other spouse) has until 60 days after their first response to the divorce petition to submit their own disclosures. 

The purpose of requiring these disclosures so early in the divorce process is to encourage both spouses to lay their cards on the table so that the divorcing spouses will (hopefully) reach an amicable resolution to their differences. Disclosure paperwork consists of several documents, as described below.

Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure (FL-141)

Form FL-141 should include the following information:

  • Date of Service: The date that you delivered your financial disclosures to your spouse (along with other accompanying documents).
  • Method of Service: The manner in which the documents were delivered to your spouse (e.g., by mail, by personal service, and more).
  • Service Recipient: The identity of the spouse who received the documents.

This is the document that you deliver to the court.

Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142)

Form FL-142 should disclose items you own or have an interest in, such as:

  • Real property
  • Bank accounts
  • Investments
  • Vehicles
  • Life insurance and annuities
  • Business Interests
  • Mortgages and real property loans.
  • Credit cards and unsecured loans
  • Vehicle loans
  • Other personal property

You should also list any other debts not otherwise mentioned.

Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)

Include the following information to the best of your ability:

  • Your assets and debts
  • Attorney fees
  • Deductions
  • Employment
  • Expense declaration
  • Ordinary income
  • Other income
  • Salary and wages
  • Tax information

Include any additional information that might be relevant to your overall financial situation.

Supporting Documentation

Your declarations will carry no weight unless you back up your assertions with credible documentation such as:

  • Tax returns
  • Pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • Investment account statements
  • Real estate documents (deeds, mortgage statements, appraisals, and more)
  • Vehicle registration and value statements
  • Debt statements
  • Life insurance policies
  • Business financial statements
  • Pension and retirement account statements

Include proof of any other income you have, regardless of whether it fits into any of the foregoing categories.

Pretrial Discovery

Pretrial discovery is a court-supervised process where each side gathers evidence from the other side. Failure to cooperate can result in a variety of sanctions, including contempt of court.

For this reason, pretrial discovery is useful when one spouse fails to cooperate with its disclosure obligations or when disclosure by a third spouse, such as a bank, becomes necessary. Pretrial discovery gives you (and the other spouse) access to the following legal weapons:


At a deposition, one spouse’s lawyer cross-examine a witness for the other spouse. Although the cross-examination doesn’t take place in court, it is under oath-–and likely videotaped. 

If you are subpoenaed for a deposition, you need to prepare very carefully with the help of your lawyer. It is easy for the other side’s lawyer to trip you up unless you have your own lawyer to help you. The judge will not be present at the deposition.


Interrogatories are written questions that the recipient must answer under oath. There is a time limit (typically 30 days) and a limit to the number of interrogatories (typically 35).

Demands for the production of documents

You might need to see (and copy) a document that is in the other side’s possession–a prenuptial agreement, for example, or financial records.

Requests for admissions

A request for admission works like this: “You made $47,400 last year – admit or deny.” Requests for admissions relieve each spouse from having to prove every little fact they use in court. This saves both sides time and effort.

Demand to inspect property

If your spouse holds legal title to real estate (especially if it is marital property), you might want to bring an appraiser to help you determine the value of the land. You might also want to inspect other property.

Physical exam 

Suppose you are demanding a certain amount of alimony or child support from your spouse. Your spouse cannot pay much because they are working part-time, claiming occupational disability. 

In that case, you might demand that your spouse submit to an independent medical examination conducted by a doctor who has no stake in the outcome of the exam.

Electronically stored information

The law is still evolving when it comes to the pretrial discovery of electronically stored information, such as computer files. The law in this area is complex and nuanced.

Amicable Settlement

A cooperative attitude toward divorce can go a long way in lightening your disclosure and discovery burdens. If you can trust your partner not to deliberately withhold important information from you, and if they can trust you to do the same, you can save yourself a lot of time, effort, money, trouble, and stress. You can even agree to limit the scope of discovery, which could save you months of effort.

Talk to an Experienced San Diego Family Lawyer

A contentious divorce is no time to represent yourself. You are going to need the assistance of an experienced San Diego family lawyer to navigate through the legal “whitewater” that you’re going to face. Even if you anticipate an amicable divorce, there will still be legal challenges ahead if you have any complex issues to resolve.

Schedule an initial consultation at (619) 866-3756 with an experienced divorce lawyer from San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC near you as soon as you can. One common mistake is waiting too long to get a lawyer involved. It’s going to take your lawyer time after you hire them to become familiar with your case. 

Meanwhile, you might have deadlines looming, deadlines that demand a response from your as-yet uninformed lawyer. It’s better to hire a lawyer early.