A major problem that our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. sometimes see during a mediation is where one party will try to manipulate the process. Usually in this scenario, one spouse has an earning capacity that is very much higher than his or her spouse. In addition, this spouse was the person who throughout the marriage was responsible to pay the bills, maintain the bank and savings accounts, make investment decisions, and did the parties federal tax return. In reality, this spouse has a full and complete understanding of the parties’ financial wherewithal and uses this knowledge to the disadvantage of the other spouse.
In order to level the playing field in dissolution of marriage, we have Florida Family Court Rules of Procedure 12.285 which is titled Mandatory Disclosure. Rule 12.285 requires both parties to provide a number of different financial documents to the other party in order that each party will be fully informed about the marital and non-marital assets of ach party. In addition, a spouse who earns more than $50,000 must prepare Florida Family Law Affidavit Form 12.901(e).
At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., we have seen a number of different methods that a wealthy spouse will use in order to manipulate their response to “Mandatory Disclosure” when it comes to disclosing income and financial records.
Rule 12.285 requires that the “Mandatory Disclosure” documents must be produced within 45 days of the date that a party filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or was served with the divorce petition. Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators have seen situations where one party will wait until just days before the mediation or even at mediation to deliver these required financial documents. By waiting until the last minute to comply with Rule 12.285, the other party has very little time to review the documents to determine accuracy and whether he or she has been provided all of the documents that are required under the rule.
We have also seen situations where the documents are delivered in one large stack that are out of order; which also makes it difficult for the other to party to fully understand. Even when the documents are in the correct order, some financial records such as retirement and investment account can be hard to understand. To further complicate matters, it is Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. experience that most people have never been in a mediation some parties are intimidated to be in a foreign setting.
If you find yourself in this type of an overwhelming situation where you believe that your spouse has intentionally tried to place you at a disadvantage, there is nothing wrong with requesting that mediation be continued to another date in order that you are able to review all of the financial records that were provided and request any incomplete or missing documents from your spouse.
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators want your mediation process to be conducted in a manner that is fair, so we never mind continuing a mediation where one party isn’t playing by the rule.