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Navigating the Financial Disclosure Form in Divorce



Financial disclosures play a key role in divorce. Family law judges need to understand your income and expenses to determine many legal issues related to divorce, including possible alimony, child support, and other issues. Filling out the form might seem like a pain. However, it is absolutely vital that you complete a financial disclosure or declaration accurately and completely. Any document you submit to a South Carolina court should be as accurate as possible and contain no big errors. If you misrepresent facts, then you are opening yourself up to possible sanctions. 


Call Surasky Law Firm for assistance from our divorce lawyers. We can help you navigate your financial disclosure form and even fill it out for you. Below, we provide an overview of the information you will need and what steps to take when filling out your form. 


Purpose of the Financial Disclosure Forms 

The purpose of completing this form is to provide all relevant financial information in one handy place for a judge to peruse. In a divorce, your income will impact: 

  • Child support: Determined by state guidelines, with your monthly income being a major factor.

  • Alimony: Your income plays a crucial role in determining eligibility (receiving or paying).

  • Division of marital property & debts: A judge may consider each spouse's financial resources when dividing assets and liabilities. The spouse with more income/resources might get a larger share of the debt load.


Your forms must contain up-to-date information and be accurate. Of course, neglecting to disclose income could unfairly reduce your child support or increase the likelihood you receive alimony or a greater share of marital property. Some people are tempted to lie on these forms. For this reason, you must swear that the form is truthful and accurate. 


Required Financial Information 

Financial disclosures ask for various financial information. The information is not just limited to income but includes other financial aspects of your life: 

  • Assets: Real estate, retirement accounts, stocks, and bonds

  • Income: Salaries, wages, bonuses, commissions, and any passive income (e.g., rental income)

  • Liabilities: Car loans, mortgages, personal loans, and credit card balances

  • Monthly expenses: Groceries, utilities, housing costs (rent or mortgage), phone bills, car payments, etc.

  • Healthcare: Health insurance premiums and medical costs


It’s helpful to work with an attorney when filling out these forms. You might not know whether to report income, such as passive income, if you are the part-owner of a business. Other questions involve which monthly expenses to include in the form. 


Your divorce lawyer can help you fill out the form completely. Misrepresenting your financial information can result in sanctions. Although you probably won’t be penalized for an innocent mistake, egregious misrepresentation could lead to contempt citations. A judge might also award you less marital property if you hid income. 


Materials to Gather 

The first step is to gather the documents you will need to fill out the form. You can share these with your divorce attorney. 


Relevant documents include: 

  • Tax returns (past 3 years)

  • Recent W-2 form

  • Recent pay stubs

  • Proof of self-employed/gig income (past 12 months): Checks, invoices, etc.

  • Bank statements (checking & savings)

  • Credit card statements (most recent)

  • Loan statements (most recent): Mortgage, car loan, personal loan

  • Retirement account information

  • Investment account balances & mutual funds

  • Utility bills (electrical, water, phone, heating)

  • Daycare/childcare expense records (past 12 months)


Talk with your lawyer about what other information you should find. Some people use cash to pay a lot of their monthly expenses or recurring bills, but cash is hard to document. 


Steps to Completing a Disclosure Form 

Filling out the form is time consuming, but your best bet is to: 

  • Review all financial records for accuracy and recentness.

  • Fill out the form completely, providing all requested information.

  • Highlight any questions you have for your attorney.

  • Double-check your completed form for accuracy.

  • Have your attorney review the completed form.

  • Sign the form after your attorney's review.

  • Keep a copy of the completed form for your records.


You should also receive a copy of your spouse’s financial declaration form. You will want to go over it with a fine-tooth comb. Look for incomplete, missing, or inaccurate information. There's an advantage to pointing out to the judge when your spouse’s form is missing information. 


While married, you still have access to joint bank accounts, joint credit card accounts, and other financial information. You can access these accounts to double check the accuracy of your spouse’s financial declaration. 


Updating a Financial Disclosure 

Also remember to update your form, if necessary. A contested divorce can take more than a year. During that time, you might lose a job, suffer a reduction in hours, or even get a huge bonus or promotion. This information will impact all the issues listed above, including child support. You should report any and all changes so that the judge has accurate information to use. 


And if you forgot to include something on the form? Tell your lawyer as soon as possible. For example, you might have forgotten an investment account which you haven’t looked at in years. Mistakes happen. Remember to tell your lawyer so they can disclose this information to the judge.

 

Call Us Today 

Surasky Law Firm can handle all paperwork and court documents in a South Carolina divorce. Many of our clients are simply overwhelmed emotionally and pressed for time. The thought of pulling together all their financial information gives them a headache. Let us ensure your form is filled out accurately and submitted in a timely manner. There’s no need to create unnecessary stress on yourself. 


Contact us today to speak with an Aiken, SC divorce lawyer. Our consultations are confidential and held at a convenient time. 



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