Pursuant to Florida Family Law Rule 12.285, a financial affidavit is required in virtually every family law case. I am of the opinion, along with many other family law practitioners, that it is the most important document you file in your case. It must be accurate to the best of your knowledge and ability to approximate. Having said that, here are some tips on completing the initial draft of your financial affidavit form in Florida.
- For small business owners: If you have a bookkeeper or accountant that helps you categorize your business expenses, you would be greatly advantaged in utilizing his or her services to help you complete your financial affidavit. This is money well spent, as a financial professional can keep you from taking inconsistent positions between your tax return and your financial affidavit. Inconsistencies will be noticed by a family court judge. Judges examine financial affidavits all day long, and they are on the lookout for people hiding income.
- It is best if you complete the initial draft of the financial affidavit in a quiet place, with at least two or three hours to spare. Before you begin, locate your recent paystubs, your checkbook register, your credit card statements, and most importantly, a calculator.
- Begin with the income section. Be aware that the financial affidavit is completed showing all figures on a MONTHLY basis. Very few people receive their paychecks on a monthly basis. Therefore, be sure to adjust all of your paycheck figures, including monies received as well as monies deducted, into a MONTHLY figure. The formula to make monthly adjustments are as follows:
- Weekly:If you are paid by the week, you may convert your income monthly as follows:Weekly amount multiplied by 52 gives you a yearly figure, divide by 12 to get a monthly figure.
Bi-weekly:If you are paid bi-weekly, you may convert your income monthly as follows:
Bi-weekly amount multiplied by 26 gives you a yearly figure, divide by 12 to get a monthly figure.
Bi-monthly:If you are paid bi-monthly, you may convert your income to monthly as follows:
Bi-monthly amount multiplied by 2 gives you a monthly amount.
- You will need to use the same formula to calculate some of your expenses that you pay for more than once a month, which are typically groceries, day care, grooming and some prescription medications.
- With regard to your expenses, you may be surprised at how much you spend. Nonetheless, and despite showing a shortfall, it is imperative that you list all of them. If may be difficult to complete these expenses, as your situation may make your household budget very unpredictable. Also, many categories of expenses are missing from the financial affidavit form. Do the best you can, understandably, most of us “juggle” every month. If needed, use additional pages to describe unique situations such as the sharing of expenses with a roommate, or if some of your expenses are borne by your employer (this is often the case with cell phones).
- Often times, the most difficult part of the financial affidavit is the portion regarding assets and liabilities. We are frequently asked why assets and liabilities must be disclosed when you have the type of case where they will not be at issue. The Court wants this information as a means by which to truly assess your financial situation and to ensure that your income is truthfully reported.
- When giving values to your assets, give the “fair market value”, which may be different that the purchase price. For household furnishings and jewelry, this is a “garage sale” value. For vehicles, we suggest you value your vehicle using Kelly Blue Book, or the online version of Kelly Blue Book, www.kbb.com. Please note that a leased vehicle is not an asset, and only shows as a liability on your financial affidavit.
- When giving values to your liabilities, check your most recent statement, and use the balance figure, whether it is your mortgage, your car, or your credit card debt. You may have debts for which you are unaware, and it is best that you obtain that information. Your credit report is available for free, as part of a government program, at www.annualcreditreport.com. Use this free service to make sure all debts are considered, which is most critical in a prejudgment divorce case, but is relevant in all cases.
- Finally, if there is EVER a time when you should be double and triple checking your math, this is it.
- Be sure that your financial affidavit is notarized before filing it with the Court, as the statute requires the document be sworn.
To learn more or if you have any questions about your financial affidavit form in Florida, please contact a highly reputable, experienced Miami family law attorney at DADvocacy Law Firm at (305) 371-7640. Se habla Español.