Dividing your finances and assessing your financial responsibilities during divorce can be stressful. We do so based on financial affidavits from both you and your spouse, but these forms themselves are quite complex. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, family law attorneys are available to support you during your Illinois divorce.
What’s a financial affidavit?
A financial affidavit is a form that is used in divorce proceedings. It requires an accurate and transparent disclosure of financials to help determine divorce outcomes like child support and division of property.
Completing an affidavit can be overwhelming. They require precise data and supporting documentation, like bank statements, tax returns and paystubs. While both spouses are responsible for filling out their respective forms, don’t worry—your attorney will be with you every step of the way to help answer questions and support the process.
One of the first steps after completing a financial affidavit is to check for accuracy—both of your own affidavit and that of your spouse. Sometimes, honest mistakes are made. But other times, individuals intentionally provide inaccurate information with hopes of achieving a certain outcome.
Here are steps you can take to ensure you fill out your affidavit properly, and what to do if your spouse doesn’t.
How do I properly fill out an affidavit?
The complexity of an affidavit may vary depending on the details of your personal and professional life.
Example 1: The financial affidavit requires a comprehensive disclosure of your current income. If your only income. If your only income is in the form of a regular paycheck from a single company, that section should be simple. But if you have your own business, rental properties or complex investments, determining income may be more complicated.
Example 2: If you’re determining day-to-day expenses and you always use a debit or credit card, your bank statements simplify the process. However, if you make a majority of purchases in cash—and have no historical record—it could take longer to figure out those numbers.
Before you begin filling out the form, gather as much documentation as possible. This will help you throughout the process. If you’re unsure how to approach certain parts of the affidavit, you can consult your attorney and/or accountant.
And remember—honest mistakes happen sometimes. What’s important is that they are rectified.
What are examples of intentional, inaccurate information in an affidavit?
Believe it or not, some people do lie on their affidavits. They’ll deflate income, inflate expenses or withhold information with the hope that they’ll owe their spouse less money.
After each party fills out their affidavit, the forms are sent to one another for review. This is a great opportunity for you to work in partnership with your attorney to look for any mistakes or untruths; your attorney will bring the legal expertise and you’ll have the personal, historical context.
Here are some things to consider during the review of your spouse’s affidavit:
- Whether or not bonuses were disclosed
- Reported monthly expenses far exceed monthly income without an increase in credit card or other debt
- Recent, large withdrawals from a bank account or unexplained money transfers
- Reported income or expenses that are different from the status quo during the marriage—such as unusual transfers to family or friends
- Whether or not you’ve received recent mail, addressed to your spouse, from unknown financial institutions
Hopefully, you and your spouse are on the same page about completing your financial affidavits in a truthful manner and to the best of your ability. But it never hurts to review both forms with a critical eye and the support of your attorney.
What happens if I discover a mistake or inaccuracy?
It’s important to note that legally, documentation is required to support information disclosed on an affidavit. Once the affidavit process is complete, you and your spouse are subject to the penalties of perjury for any misrepresentations made on the affidavit either recklessly or intentionally.
If mistakes are honest, they may be resolved informally between the two attorneys versus seeking sanctions from the court.
If you believe your spouse has withheld or provided inaccurate information, then your attorney may recommend seeking to have the court sanction your spouse for any intentional or reckless misrepresentations. Sanctions can include the court requiring a revised affidavit from your spouse and ordering that your spouse pay your attorneys’ fees and costs necessary because your spouse attempted to mislead the court. Additionally, the court will likely scrutinize more closely documents and testimony by your spouse in the future because your spouse has been untruthful before.
You could also request additional discovery, which requires your spouse to answer detailed questions and provide more documentation. Discovery might also include subpoenas to banks, lenders, other businesses and employers. This can be an arduous, expensive process and is best avoided by being truthful from the start.
While not ideal, our attorneys will support you during any necessary discovery and ensure that we get accurate financial information from your former spouse. And, in many cases, if your spouse was intentionally or recklessly untruthful, they can be required to cover the additional fees you incur as a result.
Contact Our Divorce and Family Law Firm in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook
At Stern Perkoski and Mendez, your needs always come first and we’ll take every step necessary to untangle your finances from your spouse’s. If you are searching for a divorce lawyer or would like to learn more about how to move forward with an affidavit, we would be honored to help. Please request a free consultation or call us at (847) 868-9584.