If you are preparing to file or have recently filed for a dissolution of marriage or paternity petition you have come across the financial affidavit. This document can be very intimidating, it requests a lot of personal financial information. If you are feeling overwhelmed you are not alone, here are some common questions we are asked.
Why do I need to fill this out?
In short, because the courts require it. You must file a financial affidavit unless you have entered into a written settlement agreement (which would include all information on the financial affidavit) that divides all your assets and debts. For the most part all dissolution cases require some form of financial disclosure. There are three main potential financial components of a dissolution, equitable distribution, spousal support, and child support. Equitable distribution is a factor in every dissolution case and spousal support and child support are possible depending on the specifics of your case.
Why does it ask for so many expenses?
Why does the court need to know how much you spend on grooming a month? The expenses portion of the financial affidavit helps you to see what a monthly budget looks like. When you are going from two incomes to one it is important to consider how much you are spending. The court uses this information to help determine the appropriate amount of spousal support. If you are requesting spousal support, you should be as exact with these expenses as possible. It is likely you will be asked to explain your expenses.
What assets and liabilities do I need to include?
You should list all assets and liabilities that fall into each category. Even if you agree on how they will be divided this lets the court know you have gone through and addressed everything. If your currently agreeable ex does not pay a debt or transfer an asset like they agreed, you have a way to enforce.
For all bank accounts you should list the name of the bank and the last four digits of the account. This goes for credit cards as well. When you list a vehicle include the year, make and model. The value of the vehicle can be estimated using Kelley Blue Book. As for the marital home, if you and your spouse agree on the value of your martial home an appraisal may not be necessary prejudgment. If there is any discrepancy you should have a restricted appraisal done. Uncertain as to the balance of your mortgage? Request an accounting from your mortgage servicer. Being as exact as possible with these values will help you feel like you have a handle on your case financially.
What if my spouse and I have a written agreement?
Your written agreement should include all the relevant information regarding your assets and debts. Go through the financial affidavit and make sure all listed types of debts and assets are included in your agreement. You want a judge to see what you have gone through all potential marital assets and liabilities so they can enter a final judgment without concern as to whether the agreement is complete enough to ratify.