San Jose Divorce Attorney Discusses Fiduciary Duty Between Spouses
In California, spouses owe each other a fiduciary duty, which is defined in California Family Code §§ 721 and 1100. In a nutshell, California Family Code requires each spouse to act in the highest good faith and not take unfair advantage of the other when doing things involving property division that involve the other.
This fiduciary duty includes, but is not limited to, the duty to disclose “all material facts and information regarding the existence, characterization and valuation of all assets in which the community has or may have an interest and debts for which the community is or may be liable,” as well as all material facts and information relating to the income and expenses of each party. Moreover, each spouse must “provide equal access to all information, records, and books that pertain to the value and character of those assets and debts, upon request.”
Spouses undergoing a divorce are under an obligation to disclose all material facts and information regarding the existence, characterization and valuation of assets and debts, and about income and expenses. The purpose of this section of the Family code is to ensure spouses do not conceal assets or intentionally mislead the other spouse about the extent or nature of assets or income. The code requires the disclosure of all material facts and information regardless of whether the asset is community property or separate property in nature.
The effects of a violation of the fiduciary duty provisions of the Family Code, intentional or unintentional, are substantial. The violation of any provision of California Family Code § 2102 results in mandatory sanctions. The court is required to order the party violating this code section to pay the reasonable attorney and expert fees incurred by the other party as a result of the violation, and to impose a form of punitive damages in the nature of “money sanction” unless there was “substantial justification” or “other circumstances” which makes the sanction unjust.
Whether you are in a marriage with millions of dollars in assets or just a few thousand, you are bound by these provisions in the Family Code. We strongly recommend all parties seeking a divorce consult with one of our attorneys. We offer a free thirty minute consultation, either in person or over the phone, where we can assess the nature and complexity of your case. We have offices in three Bay Area locations (Fremont, San Jose and Monterey), and handle cases throughout the region. Our experienced attorneys specialize in family law and can guide you through the somewhat complex and difficult process that is getting a dissolution. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation.