If you are divorced or legally separated from your spouse, you likely went through a process where you both provided financial records to each other. That information was needed to determine how to divide your marital assets and the amount of spousal and/or child support that would have to be paid from one party to another. However, financial records may also be necessary when enforcing financial provisions in a divorce decree or separation agreement.
Why Are Financial Records Required When Enforcing a Divorce or Separation Agreement?
Enforcement actions involving financial matters typically arise when one party fails to pay spousal and/or child support to the other party. Alternatively, enforcement actions may also result if the party against whom enforcement is being sought seeks to set aside or modify the separation agreement. The one who owes the money (the payor-spouse) often claims he or she cannot afford what was agreed to in the agreement. To substantiate that argument, both sides must provide his or her financial records. However, the payor-spouse may also allege that the recipient-spouse doesn’t need as much support as awarded because the recipient has sufficient resources. Accordingly, the payor will seek to obtain the financial records of the recipient to demonstrate that support should be recalculated.
What Financial Records Must Be Provided in a Post-Judgment Enforcement Action?
Relevant records are needed to establish both income and expenses including bank, investment, retirement and credit card statements; tax returns; business records and other documents. Importantly, if a spouse is claiming that he or she cannot afford to pay support because of reduced income, the court will also be looking at whether the spouse has changed his or her lifestyle to reflect the lost income.
This issue arose in a recent client matter. The client’s spouse (the payor-spouse) lost her job but continued to spend money at the same rate on expenses that weren’t necessary, negating her claim that her support obligation should be reduced. However, our client was required to provide his financial records to show that his financial circumstances remained the same.
While it may seem unfair to have to provide financial records if you are the one seeking to enforce the divorce or separation agreement, the court will want to review the finances of both sides to determine whether they are consistent with the claims being made in court.
If you are seeking to enforce a divorce or separation agreement or defend against enforcement, it is important to hire an experienced attorney to help ensure you obtain all the necessary information to support your case and advocate for your best interests. Contact us to learn how we can assist you in your matter.