Jarbath Peña Law Group PA
Do I Have to Disclose My Financial Information in a Divorce?
Updated: Mar 30
Going through a divorce is emotionally trying to say the least. However, filing all of the necessary paperwork before the divorce proceedings can be equally as frustrating — especially when it comes to your financial statement. You may be asking questions such as:
● Why are they asking me for all of my financial info?
● Do I have to produce it?
● Can I say no?
The simple answer to all three questions is, “Yes, you are required to produce your financial information during a divorce.” And this can be a daunting task, which is why you should enlist the help of an experienced family law attorney when submitting your required financial records.
What You Will Need to File
When divorcing in the State of Florida, you will need to file a “Family Law Financial Affidavit.” If your individual gross income is under $50,000 per year, you can file Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(b), which is the short form. If your individual gross income is $50,000 and over, you are required to file Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(c), which is the long form. You are required to file one of these two financial affidavits unless one of the following applies:
You are filing a simplified dissolution of marriage under Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure 12.105, and both parties have waived the filing of financial affidavits;
You have no minor children, no support issues, and have filed a written settlement agreement disposing of all financial issues; or
The court lacks jurisdiction to determine any financial issues.
In your financial affidavit, you are required to reveal your income from all sources. In addition, you will be disclosing all of your assets, liabilities, and expenses.
You must file your financial affidavit with the court within 45 days of being served with a divorce petition. Your soon-to-be former spouse must also submit their financial affidavit to the court. Be sure to review your former spouse’s financial affidavit with your attorney and look for signs that they are hiding assets or inflating expenses, or otherwise being dishonest.
Determining your income, assets, and liabilities is usually a straightforward process. You can prove the amounts you enter on the affidavit with things such as tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and titles or deeds. However, many people get tripped up when it comes to expenses and make other common mistakes as well.
Common Mistakes on the Family Law Financial Affidavit
Family court judges handle many divorce cases, and they have learned to look for certain red flags when it comes to financial affidavits. And there could be significant penalties if you are caught lying on your affidavit. So be honest and make sure you can back up your claims with proof. Now, let’s look at some ways to avoid raising any financial affidavit red flags.
Your Expenses Are More Than Your Income
The first thing you should understand is that you are to list your expenses as they will be after the divorce is final. Many people make the mistake of listing their expenses as they were while married. This can lead to showing more expenses on your affidavit than you list as income, which is a huge red flag. If you are just moving out and are not really sure of your expenses, you are allowed to estimate, but be sure to have documentation to back up your estimation. If your expenses are, in fact, more than your income, you will need to show documentation on how you plan on making up the difference.
Double Dipping of Expenses
This happens more often with self-employed people, who use an expense to lower the income from their business and also list the same expense in the expenses section of the affidavit. Home offices, phones, and vehicles are the most common of these. Sometimes people will also list the same item as an expense and a liability.
Your Affidavit Doesn’t Match Your Tax Return
Your income on your tax return should match the W-2 and other incomes shown on your tax return — or be very close to it. Your expenses should also be reflected on Schedule A of your 1040 tax return. If there are inconsistencies, it opens you up to questions from the judge, who might assume you are lying on the affidavit or your taxes. As we’ve stated, there are penalties for lying in your affidavit. And if the judge finds out you are lying on your taxes, he is obligated to report you to the IRS.
Not Using Footnotes
You can include a separate page with numbered footnotes with your financial affidavit. This is a great way of explaining how you came to certain figures that may seem unusual or when the figure is just an estimate. You should also include documentation to back up any statements you make in the footnotes. The use of footnotes shows that you respect the court’s time and makes you look forthright and honest in the judge’s eyes.
Handwriting the figures in your financial affidavit makes it look to opposing counsel and the judge that you did not take the financial statement seriously. It can be a source of irritation for the judge if they cannot read your writing, and the last thing you want is to be the source of irritation for the judge deciding your case. It also gives the appearance that you prepared the form in a hurry and did not give the proper attention to putting your financial figures together.
Avoid Mistakes by Hiring an Experienced Family Law Attorney
During the trying times of a divorce, you will want to lean on an experienced and compassionate family law attorney like those you will find at the Jarbath Peña Law Group. We can help you gather the documentation necessary to accurately complete your financial affidavit and to ensure that you don’t ruin your case by appearing dishonest to the judge. You can reach us at 305-615-1005 or through our online contact form. We look forward to serving you!