The Financial Affidavit – The Key to your Divorce
By Michael J. Costantino, Esq.
Vital information about the Florida Financial Affidavit required in a divorce or paternity action
During divorce proceedings, or a paternity action, a detailed document required by both parties to complete, is referred to as the Financial Affidavit. The document provides a clear picture of that parties’ financial history and current financial state. The document is very crucial for the determination of child support, and in a divorce equitable distribution and alimony, as well as attorney fees.
Completing a financial affidavit may be time-consuming, but it is imperative to complete this form honestly and accurately because it will be used in every stage of the divorce or paternity proceedings.
Both parties are required to submit a financial affidavit to the court early in the divorce or paternity process. In fact, the Financial Affidavit is required to turned over to the other party for inspection, with other documents as required in Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure 12.285, within 45-days from the date the petition for divorce or paternity was served.
The affidavit requires full disclosure of income from all sources (all income from part-time and full-time jobs). Income from Social Security, pensions or annuity funds, etc. must be included. You must include all allowable deduction from your income, taxes, health insurance, mandatory retirement payments or mandatory union dues.
The next section is all about your monthly expenses. Be accurate and reasonable. When you list $4,000.00 in expenses and only have $2,000.00 in income, then make sure you have a viable reason for the difference. The expense section is vital when determining a persons need or ability to pay alimony.
Lastly is the section on Assets and Liabilities. All financial accounts such as checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, stock accounts, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) must be listed. Real property, personal property and vehicles must be listed. All debts, whether secured debt against property (mortgage/car loan) or unsecured debt (credit cards) must be list in this section. Now if you have a debt listed in this section, you should also have this debt listed in your expenses. For example, if you have a Visa card, you may list that you owe $1,500 in the liability section, but you should also have the monthly payment listed in the expense section.
The financial affidavit is vital in determining issues in the divorce or paternity action that involve both parties’ income, property, and debts. In a paternity action the primary concern is with income, for the calculation of child support. The Financial Affidavit enables the court to decide the appropriate amount of alimony after analyzing the spouses’ incomes and expenses. Moreover, the financial affidavit supports the court in the determination of the equitable distribution of assets and who will be liable for which debts after divorce.
It is, however, paramount to be completely honest and accurate when filling the form, as a financial affidavit will be signed under oath and regarded as sworn testimony. Any dishonesty is tantamount to perjury and could attract penalties and sanctions.
To guide you during the completion of a financial affidavit and the entire divorce proceedings, hire an experienced divorce attorney to have a clear view and understanding of the form’s requirement and other procedures during divorce.