Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit
In Florida, both parties to a divorce are required to fill out a document known as a financial affidavit. There are two varieties of forms, including short forms and long forms, and which one a party utilizes will depend on his or her income. The paperwork required to successfully resolve divorce proceedings can be complex, so if you are considering a divorce, it is important to retain the services of an experienced family law attorney who can help ensure that all forms are correctly filled out and all filing deadlines met.
Long Forms vs. Short Forms
A party to a divorce whose gross annual income is less than $50,000 must complete the short form version of the financial affidavit. Alternatively, if a person has a gross income of more than $50,000, he or she must complete the long form. After completing the forms, both parties are required to deliver a copy to each other within 45 days of the date of service of the initial divorce petition.
Both forms require the same basic information, including:
- Employment information and income;
- Liabilities; and
Although both the long and short forms require the same basic information, the short form is far less detailed.
One of the more difficult aspects of completing the financial affidavit is navigating the income section. Basically, the parties need to list all forms of income, including:
- Social security benefits; and
- Unemployment compensation.
If a person’s income varies weekly or monthly, he or she must average the total income by adding the amount of gross income listed on pay stubs received during the past month and then dividing by the number of pay stubs. If income varies significantly, a party may need to average the gross income over an entire year.
Both parties are also required to calculate net monthly income by submitting any deductions from his or her monthly gross income. Applicable deductions include:
- Federal, state, and local income tax;
- FICA or self-employment tax;
- Union dues;
- Health insurance; and
- Court-ordered child or spousal support.
The expenses portion of the forms also requires an in-depth analysis of a person’s finances. In order to keep track of all expenses, each party should gather all necessary receipts of payments made, including:
- Checkbook ledgers;
- Online payment receipts;
- Mortgage payment records;
- Utility bills; and
- Credit card statements.
The forms do not require parties to record any unusual or one-time expenses, such as a family emergency travel expense.
In order to accurately complete the form, each party must list all of his or her assets at their fair market value. This includes,
- Jewelry; and
- Household goods.
To determine fair market value, each person must compare his or her item with the asking prices of similar used products. The other spouse’s separately owned property, including property owned prior to marriage or property that was a gift or inheritance, need not be recorded.
All liabilities must also be recorded in the appropriate spaces. Liabilities include:
- Automobile loans; and
- Credit card balances.
All debts should be recorded, even if they are owned jointly by the divorcing couple. However, any debts owed exclusively by the other spouse can be omitted.
If you are considering a divorce, an attorney’s advice is vital to ensuring that all necessary paperwork is completed and all deadlines are met. Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for an initial consultation.