NEW LEGISLATION (EFFECTIVE 1/1/13) WILL AFFECT FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS:
AB 1406, introduced in 2011 and signed into law July 6, 2012, makes a number fundamental changes to the California Family Code (CFC); they go into effect on January 1, 2013.
Regarding Preliminary Declarations of Disclosures (PDDs):
Pursuant to statute (CFC §2100 et. seq.), both parties must exchange PDDs before Judgment may be entered in a dissolution; the PDD is a set of financial disclosures that detail a party’s income and expenses as well as their understanding of the community and separate assets and debts. PDDs are very important as they set the table for the discussion of property division as well as how entitled the parties may be to child support, spousal support and attorney’s fees. PDDs are not filed with the Court; they are served on the opposing party, and a Proof of Service of PDD is filed with the Court.
PDDs are not required by law to be very rigorous; it is expected that the parties will supplement the PDDs as new information is discovered and/or exchange Final Declarations of Disclosure (FDDs) before trial/settlement. Of course, good practice is to have as complete a PDD as possible, not only so the parties more quickly know what they are fighting over, but also because the parties can stipulate to waive service of FDDs, which often happens when the PDDs are good enough. Moreover, a lawyer who is on top of things will actually prepare the PDD so it can be served with the divorce petition.
There used to be no deadline for exchange of PDDs (except that a divorce could not be completed without the exchange). After AB 1406 was introduced in 2011, the California Judicial Council added a new Rule of Court (not quite law, but required to be followed) such that the Petitioner had to have her/his PDD served within 60 days of the filing of the petition.
This is now law: a petitioner must serve a PDD within 60 days of filing the petition, and the respondent must serve his/her PDD within 60 days of filing the response (unless those time periods are extended by written agreement of the parties or by court order). Moreover, the PDD must include all tax returns filed by the declarant within the two years prior to the date the party served the PDD.
This new legislation will be codified in CFC §2104(f). The penalties for failing to timely file a PDD could include sanctions for the noncomplying party, as well as a more expensive divorce in general (i.e. having to respond to motions to compel production of a PDD).
So if you are getting a divorce, don’t wait on assembling your financial information. If you really want to expedite your case, have documentation for all of your assets and debts ready as soon as possible so you can serve your Petition and Summons simultaneously with the PDD.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes and it should not be relied on as legal advice. An attorney-client relationship is not formed by reading the information on this site and can only be formed by a written agreement that sets forth the scope of the relationship and the fee arrangement. There is no substitute for expert legal assistance. If you need representation, schedule a consultation with the Barefoot team.