If you are planning to divorce in Florida, you may be aware that you will need to make some financial disclosures to your spouse, and he or she will have to make disclosures to you. After all, if you are going to make decisions about who gets which assets (and debts) in the divorce, not to mention whether alimony will be awarded, you both need to understand the complete financial landscape of your marriage. Here is what you need to know about financial disclosures in Florida divorce.
How Do I Make Financial Disclosure in My Divorce?
In Florida, you need to fill out something called a Family Law Financial Affidavit. There are two forms of the affidavit, a short form and a long form. If your annual gross income is less than $50,000, you can use the short form; if more, you must use the long form.
When Must I Make Financial Disclosure in My Divorce?
You must file your financial affidavit with the court and serve it on your spouse within 45 days of being served with the divorce petition. If you are the one filing for divorce, you can file and serve the affidavit along with your divorce papers. If you are seeking support, you must serve the affidavit on your spouse along with your notice of hearing regarding temporary support.
Be sure to follow other rules for the affidavit, such as filling it out in black ink, having it notarized, and following Florida rules for serving papers on someone.
Is a Financial Affidavit Necessary in Every Divorce?
In most Florida divorces, a financial affidavit must be filed. However, there are some limited circumstances in which you might not have to file a financial affidavit. These include:
- A divorce in which you and your children have no children together, no support issues, and have prepared, signed, and filed a written settlement agreement resolving all financial issues in your marriage;
- A divorce in which you and your spouse have waived the filing of a financial affidavit and are ending your marriage using the Florida simplified dissolution of marriage process;
- The court lacks jurisdiction (authority) to hear and resolve financial issues in your divorce matter.
What Do I Have to Include in My Financial Affidavit?
In a nutshell, your financial affidavit must disclose your income, assets, expenses and liabilities. Income, assets, and liabilities are pretty straightforward, but “expenses” is the category that gives most people trouble. Your expenses should speak to what your expenses will be as a separated individual. Your most recent expenses during your marriage will not accurately reflect this. If you are currently separated, your expenses may be higher than they would be in the future due to things like moving costs, etc. And you cannot really know, or substantiate, those future costs. You may have to estimate your expenses, and back those up with as much documentation as possible.
How Do I Report Bonuses and Uncertain Income?
Many people receive holiday bonuses or annual performance bonuses that they cannot count on as a part of their annual income, but which they have come to expect. If you have a bonus, or irregular income such as occasional overtime, you may want the help of an experienced Florida family law attorney to complete your affidavit. An attorney can help you evaluate whether uncertain income is likely to materialize and whether it will be important to include in your affidavit.
What If My Spouse Lied on Their Affidavit?
It's possible that someone could inadvertently forget to list an asset on an affidavit, so you shouldn't automatically assume that an omission equals a deliberate lie. That said, there are people who try to conceal assets until after divorce to try to avoid their spouse receiving those assets in property division. If you think your spouse is deliberately lying about or hiding assets, tell your divorce attorney immediately and provide any documentation you have. There are serious penalties for hiding assets in a Florida divorce.
Do I Need a Lawyer's Help to Fill Out My Financial Affidavit?
It depends. If your financial information is very simple and straightforward, you probably don't need an attorney's help to complete your affidavit. The more money you have, or the more complex your sources of income, the more likely you will want an attorney's assistance to complete this important document. Even if you complete your financial affidavit on your own, you will probably want your attorney to look it over to make sure it looks right.
You may also have a person who is not a lawyer to complete your financial affidavit. If you get the help a non-lawyer to fill out your affidavit, that person must give you a disclosure about working with a non-lawyer to complete the form. They must also include their name, address, and telephone number on the affidavit.
If you have more questions about financial disclosures in Florida divorce, or how to make disclosures, contact us at the Florida Divorce Law Group, where we will put our experience and knowledge at your service.