How to Fill Out a Financial Affidavit in Florida
What is a Financial Affidavit?
In concept, a financial affidavit is a simple document. It is a sworn statement of your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. The form for the affidavit is prescribed by the Florida Supreme Court.
Who Has to File a Financial Affidavit in Florida?
Both parties must file and serve a financial affidavit in a divorce case. If you are seeking support, you must serve it on your spouse (or his or her attorney) along with your notice of hearing on temporary support. Your spouse’s affidavit must be filed no later than 5:00 p.m to days (or seven days if provided by mail) before the hearing.
The standard interrogatories also require you to provide a financial affidavit along with the answers. If there is no temporary support hearing and no interrogatories are sent, both parties must file and serve their affidavits at least ten days before the final hearing.
What Exactly Has to Be Reported?
Despite the use of financial affidavits in almost every divorce case, no one knows exactly what must be reported. Income, assets, and liabilities present minimal difficulty. Expenses are the problem. No rule states what expenses are to be reported; no case has ever said. And, for certain, lawyers don’t know. Fortunately, developments in the law and particularly the requirement that child support is established using guidelines (which rely solely upon income), expenses are of little significance in the vast majority of cases.
Let me give you some ideas about what different expense might seem appropriate and then I’ll tell you why each of them is defective:
- Past history. If you reported your expenses for recent past history, say for six months or a year, those expenses would show what you and your spouse expended together, they will have little relevance to what you need as a separate individual.
- Future expenses. If you reported, instead, your guess of expense for the foreseeable future, you could not support the figures with any documentation whatever; you could face a withering cross-examination on the affidavit.
- Interim expenses. If you used the expenses you had immediately after the separation, your figures would, among other problems, be significantly exaggerated, since every move or transition necessarily involves a lot of unusual expenses. Although useful for a brief period, possibly two months, this is probably the least reliable method of doing the affidavit.
What does that leave us?
It seems that the best affidavit is one that merges all three. It considers past history and projects expenses for the foreseeable future, and reports interim expense as reasonable resolution and is seeking a resolution that I believe is not equitable and is not in my client’s best interests, in this case, I will be recommending that the matter be addressed by way of trial. In some instances, the emotions are too high for the matter to be resolved during the mediation process.
Originally posted by Joseph Gufford Gufford & Brandt, A Partnership of Professional Associations – Stuart Office in Spring of 2010