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Why do spouses need to disclose assets to the divorce court?

A divorce generally involves you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse disclosing your individual assets to the court. A legal discovery process begins after filing a petition to dissolve your marriage.

Each spouse’s legal team may request documents to learn more information about an individual’s finances, as described by Brides.com. If you live apart, you could learn whether your spouse’s income increased since you separated.

How could the discovery process reveal hidden assets?

Maryland’s equitable distribution law considers the assets you and your spouse acquired while married as part of your marital estate. If you believe your spouse may have shielded income or valuable assets from your shared estate, the discovery process could uncover them.

Your spouse may receive a legal request to produce documents such as bank statements. He or she must also comply with a court-ordered interrogatory, which is a list of questions. Your spouse must provide written answers to interrogatories under oath within 30 days.

When else may I need my spouse to disclose finances?

Under Maryland’s Rule 9-203, soon-to-be ex-spouses must provide the court with their financial information. If you request child support, the court needs to calculate a payment amount. By submitting a financial statement, the court reviews your monthly income and expenses.

Income includes paychecks, self-employment earnings and government benefits. Expenses that need listing include housing, utilities and child care. A Maryland family court judge considers your child’s school, medical and recreational needs when awarding financial support.

Making false statements during discovery or in response to interrogatories could result in a charge of perjury. A judge may also hold a spouse in contempt of court for failing to comply with legal requests.

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