Financial Affidavit – What To Know
The divorce Financial Affidavit is a specific legal format that standardizes the process for presenting financial information and, at least in theory, helps ensure that nothing is left undeclared. A Financial Affidavit is required of each spouse in contested (and even some uncontested) divorces, but be forewarned: The document is called different names in different states. Depending on where you live, you might file a “Case Information Statement” (New Jersey), a “Statement of Net Worth” (New York), a “Financial Declaration” (Utah), or something else entirely. Regardless, the purpose is always the same: to provide the court with a detailed, formal presentation of a divorcing couple’s current financial situation.
The Financial Affidavit sets forth precisely what you own and what you owe (assets and liabilities), and what you earn and spend (income and expenses). It seems straightforward enough, at first. But people soon realize there is much more to the process than glancing over a few canceled checks and last month’s credit card statement.
Here’s what to know about Financial Affidavits:
Much depends on where you live.
Just as the name of the document differs from state to state, the rules and regulations governing Financial Affidavits vary from state to state too. (Sometimes, there are even differences between counties in the same state!) Be sure you know what information the court in your jurisdiction requires of you, and that you have the correct forms in hand to provide it.
You must sweat the small stuff.
Financial Affidavits ask for very specific information. You will be required to itemize your every expense according to category and subcategories — from the obvious ones such as mortgages, cars and school tuitions, to things that might not immediately come to mind, such as pet sitting, manicures, and magazine subscriptions. Even an expense that seems straightforward at first — like what you spend on your car — can get fairly complex once you factor in components like the cost of your loan or lease, repair and maintenance, parking, tolls, gas, insurance, registration, etc.
Expenses that seem small can add up significantly, and errors, omissions and guesstimates could affect your temporary and permanent child support and alimony as well as the other terms of your divorce agreement. So, while sorting through months of credit card and bank statements, utility bills, insurance records, and the like to ferret out all the particulars you need for your Financial Affidavit can seem daunting (and tedious!), it is absolutely necessary. Resist the urge to “guesstimate.” Most people who guess at their financial information end up way off the mark, which can do more harm than good.