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What Is a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure in a Santa Barbara Divorce?

Oct 7, 2023 | Divorce/Marital Dissolution, General Family Law

Married couples share a great deal of their lives together. While this is taken for granted during a marriage, it’s also what causes the divorce process to be so complex. From joint bank accounts to your family home, all aspects of your life that were shared must be split fairly in a Santa Barbara divorce.

This is where your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure comes into play. This group of documents outlines a married couple’s joint assets before the divorce process begins. If both spouses do not file a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure, the state of California will not grant a divorce. Learn more about how Declarations of Disclosure play a role in your Santa Barbara divorce below.

What Is a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure in California?

Simply put, a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure is a critical collection of documents that detail the varying assets, debts, and incomes of each spouse before they divorce. Because California follows community property laws, it is essential that all marital and separate assets are identified clearly. Without this information, your Santa Barbara family court cannot grant you the right to divorce because they have no way to make fair decisions about your assets.

What is a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure in a Santa Barbara Divorce?

What Should You Include in a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure?

Many people going through a divorce don’t realize that their Declaration of Disclosure involves a variety of different forms and documents. It’s important that you talk to your family lawyer to ensure you include all the necessary documents and avoid future issues with your case. The following are the main components of a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure in Santa Barbara:

  1. List of Marital and Separate Assets and Debt: Also known as a “Schedule of Assets and Debts,” both spouses must accurately detail each of their marital assets and debts, along with any separate property and debts that they collected on their own.
  2. Declaration of Income and Expenses: This document requires you to provide details about your job, income, and general monthly expenses. It may also ask a few questions about your spouse’s income.
  3. Proof of Income: Even though you’re also filing a form that discusses your income, you’ll also need to provide proof of how much you make by including paystubs. Generally, a Santa Barbara court only requires pay stubs from the past few months.
  4. Tax Returns: Taxes play a larger role in the divorce process than most people think. Because of this, California also requires divorcing couples to include copies of their tax returns from the prior two years. This helps the court better understand your financial situations.
  5. List of Any Investments, Businesses, or Properties That Produce Income After Separation: If you come across opportunities that produce income after you separate, such as investments or shares in businesses, you must detail them in your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure to avoid the property being misclassified.

When Do You Submit Your Documents?

If the spouse petitioning for divorce does not submit their Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure with their official divorce petition, they will have 60 days from the day they file to submit it. Once the other spouse is served, they will then have 60 days from when they file their response to submit their disclosure. In many cases, though, the respondents tend to file their Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure with their divorce response.


Q: Do You Have to Submit a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure in Santa Barbara?

A: Yes. Each spouse’s Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure plays a fundamental role in their divorce. Without these documents from each spouse, the court has no way of knowing what assets you share or what they are worth. A family court would also be unable to determine any form of property division, child support, or spousal support. It is essential that you submit an accurate Declaration of Disclosure to protect yourself and your property.

Q: What Is the Difference Between Preliminary and Final Declaration of Disclosure?

A: When you go through a divorce in California, you will begin the process with different assets than you end with. Because your assets and debts are being divided according to community property rules, you need to disclose your financial information at the beginning and end of your divorce to ensure everything is fair.

Your Preliminary Declaration is submitted before your divorce begins, whereas your Final Declaration discloses the final assets you leave with at the end of a divorce.

Q: What Do You Do if You Believe Your Spouse Is Lying on Their Disclosure?

A: Unfortunately, many individuals attempt to win an unfair split of assets by lying and misvaluing property on their Declarations of Disclosures. It is illegal to hide any marital assets from the court in a family divorce.

This means if you believe your spouse is lying in their Preliminary Disclosure, it’s crucial that you talk to your lawyer and seek justice. If the family court finds that they actually were lying, they will most likely lose the right to the property they lied about.

Q: What Is the Purpose of a Declaration of Disclosure?

A: Declarations of Disclosure carry multiple important roles in California divorces. At the beginning of a divorce, their main purpose is to ensure that no spouse is hiding any assets or trying to get an unfair split of property. When the divorce ends, the Final Declaration of Disclosure establishes the property that each spouse owns and helps to protect it from the other spouse. These documents are also used to calculate payments like child support and alimony.

Family Law and Divorce Representation in Santa Barbara

At Drury Pullen, A Professional Law Corporation, we share decades of firsthand divorce experience. Whether you just filed for divorce or you need assistance with your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure, our family lawyers are here to offer guidance. If we’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that no divorce is simple. Let us offer you a hand by helping you navigate the challenges of a Santa Barbara divorce today.

Contact Drury Pullen, A Professional Law Corporation, for compassionate divorce assistance in Santa Barbara.

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