Failure to File a Financial Disclosure Statement in Wisconsin

June 15, 2016 Divorce, Property, Debt, & Finances

You are involved in a divorce and your spouse has decided to go at it alone without a lawyer. While they have a right to do that, they also at the same time, must comply with the laws and procedures under the family code, chapter 767 of the Wisconsin Statutes. One of those requirements, is that the parties must file a written financial disclosure statement under oath, pursuant to Wisconsin Statute, sec. 766.127.

Under sec. 767.127 (2) the disclosure forms must be filed within 90 days after the service of the initial summons for divorce or the filing of a joint petition or at such other time as ordered by the court. The information contained in the financials are also required to be updated at the time of a court hearing.

What are the ramifications when the other party does not file a financial disclosure statement? The answer to that question is dealt with at subsection 4 of the statute, and reads as follows;

sec. 767.127 (4) FAILURE TO TIMELY FILE. “If either party fails to timely file a complete financial disclosure statement as required by this section, the court may accept as accurate any information provided in the statement of the other party or obtained under s. 49.22 (2m) by the department or the county child support agency under s. 59.53 (5).”

How would this play out in court? Let’s say there is an issue of the valuation of the homestead property. The home was not appraised, but you list in your financial disclosure statement that the value of the house, per the latest year property tax bill assessment is $200,000. Your spouse wants the home awarded to them in their property division, and argues to the court that the value of the home is only $120,000, because it is falling apart and needs repairs, but yet, the entire time the divorce was pending, never filed a financial disclosure statement and certainly never listed the house or it’s value on the required form. Under those circumstances, pursuant to sec. 767.127 (4), the court could accept the value you have provided at $200,000, so that if your spouse wants the home awarded they would have to pay you half the equity, or under this example, $100,000 and reject their proposal that the house is worth only $120,000 and award you half that equity or $60,000.

It is vitally important that whether you are pro se or have an attorney representing you in your divorce case, that you promptly prepare at the early stages of the divorce case your written financial disclosure statement under oath, and update the same every time, within reason, when you go into court for a new hearing. Failure to do so could put you in peril that the court accepts numbers and valuations used by your spouse’s financial disclosure statement. In my next blog, we will discuss what needs to be in the financial disclosure statement when filed with the court.

If you have questions about completing a financial disclosure statement or what should be in it, pertaining to income, debts and assets, feel free to contact us here at Karp & Iancu, S.C.

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