Understanding the Purpose of Financial Affidavits

At some point in most divorce actions, the spouses must file a financial affidavit.

Financial affidavits give the court and the parties in the case a clear and accurate picture of the finances of the marriage. Comprehensive, accurate disclosure permits the court to enter proper rulings pertaining to the division of assets and debts in contested divorce proceedings. For uncontested divorces, it gives the court confidence that the parties have shared the appropriate information to reach an equitable agreement.

While the format of these statements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the affidavits present a financial profile of both spouses – what they earn, individually, what the own and owe, both individually and jointly. Some also itemize expenses.

The financial affidavit is a standard form worksheet, typically available through the office of the court clerk, or as part of a packet of divorce documents. Each spouse normally lists assets, debts, income and expenses. The affidavit is signed under oath to ensure its accuracy and reliability, and it is notarized.

A divorce financial affidavit includes a number of important features, including a verification clause. The verification clause is a statement at the end of the affidavit that affirms the information contained in the document is true and correct. This declaration regarding accuracy is made before a notary public. Other features include an itemization of assets and debts, as well as an itemization of both income and recurring or special expenses.

Financial affidavits are not mere formalities. Misrepresentation of information in a financial affidavit means that the court can impose include a forfeiture of assets, monetary penalties and even criminal prosecution, depending on how serious the false information provided on the affidavit. For example, if one spouse hides a significant amount of assets from the other, criminal proceedings could be commenced.

The affidavits guide the court in making key decisions about community and/or equitable division and distribution of assets and debts as well as spousal support.

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