One of the most abused aspects of a family law case is the completion of an accurate Financial Affidavit. Both parties are required to submit a Financial Affidavit and exchange discovery in a family law case. In Florida, the Supreme Court has authorized two types of Financial Affidavits, one for parties with a gross income of less than $50,000 per year, and another for parties who have a gross income of over $50,000 per year.
The completion of an accurate Financial Affidavit is considered a dauntless task by most litigants. In reality, it is a simple process if you keep two things in mind. First, make sure your values are correct, and second, make sure you can prove the values you swear to, under penalties of perjury, in the Financial Affidavit. Many parties place inaccurate values in their Financial Affidavits, and this is a risky proposition. If your rent payment is listed as $1,500 per month and you cannot prove this sum, it creates a problem. Most often parties underreport their income. I’ve seen countless examples of a party listing an income figure that is significantly less than their W-2 and payroll records report. Sometimes parties report a much higher figure than they actually pay for certain expenses which is another significant problem.
My first line of inquiry when reviewing a Financial Affidavit is to examine it thoroughly and make sure that all the values can be proven with evidence, and this starts with my client. If my client’s Financial Affidavit is not accurate, it is not prudent for me to pick the other party’s Financial Affidavit apart. Remember that this is a sworn document and severe sanctions can be levied by the Court for executing an inaccurate Financial Affidavit.
All family law cases (divorce, modification, paternity, etc.) require basic mandatory disclosure, which includes detailed financial records which will be used to validate the claims in the Financial Affidavit. There is no benefit to certifying inaccurate Values in a Financial Affidavit. Do not give the other side or their attorney the ability to attack the veracity of your Financial Affidavit which may result in questioning about your overall credibility on a range of issues in front of the Court. Furthermore, do not risk sanctions from the Court by reporting inaccurate financial information. Report accurate values and corroborate them with your other financial disclosures. For assistance, in completing your Financial Affidavit and organizing your discovery seek the help of an experienced family law attorney. Believe it or not, some poorly prepared Financial Affidavits are because attorneys do not know how to prepare an accurate document, the inaccuracies may not always be intentional; however, both will cause consequences.