The Income and Expense Declaration: Why It Is So Important and How to Complete It.
There are few things in a divorce proceeding that are as important as the Income and Expense Declaration (aka form FL-150). This form is the focal point for each party’s argument for or against support orders or request for attorney fees. This form also happens to be the epicenter of all things financial for the party filling it out. It is very important that you do it completely and you do it right. This blog will better inform you of the importance of this document and how to correctly fill it out. We will take you step by step through each section of this four page document so you are not later penalized for any mistakes made.
The first and most important thing to understand when filing out this form is that all the information you include is signed under the penalty of perjury. It is of the utmost importance that you are honest and forthcoming. Full and accurate disclosures on this document could lead the Court to view you as straightforward and truthful, which could benefit you later in their ruling. Also, it will give the opposing counsel less ammunition when they later cross-examine you. Therefore, step one: be honest; it is truly in your best interest.
When reading this blog, if you could, have your copy or a blank copy in front of you. This will make much more sense if you do.
The first real task in completing this form is filing out your employment information. Simple enough, right? Mention who you work for, where it is you work, what you do, how long you have worked there and how much you get paid: If you have more than one job, list the second on an attachment. The reason this is important is clear, the Court needs to know what you make and how steady your income is to determine what you can afford or need as related to support, either child or spousal.
Age and Education
Next, you will need to let the Court know about your age, educational history which includes degrees and certificates. The reason this is pertinent is, if you were to become unemployed or you are not working, the Court can figure with your education and experience what your income would be and/or should be.
The next step is to fill out your tax information and how you last filed your taxes, where you filed them and how many exemptions you claimed. This information is relevant so the Court and opposing counsel can see if your tax status will change, which would in turn make your support different. This information is also necessary for the Court to plug into the Dissomaster program to determine support.
Other Party’s Income
The last step in filling out the first page of this document is estimating the other party’s gross monthly income and how you are estimating that amount. The reason this is asked is to see if there is a large disparity from one assessment to the other. If there is, perhaps one party is not telling the truth. In addition, if the other party has notice of your request and fails to respond, the Court may be able to use your estimate.
Oh, and don’t forget to sign at the bottom under that pesky penalty of perjury that we discussed earlier.
On the second page you will have to further discuss in detail, your income in all facets, deductions and assets. Don’t forget, you need to provide copies of your pay stubs for the last two months, proof of any other income and your latest federal tax return.
When providing information regarding your gross income be sure to be accurate and honest, always keep in the back of your mind what opposing counsel will say. You will inevitably have to get on the stand and explain what you wrote. Error on the side of caution and disclose any and all of the information the form is requesting of you. Do the same with your investment income, income from self-employment, and after business expenses for all your businesses.
This section is important for both opposing counsel and the Court to better understand your net income and any additional expenses associated with your work. Filling this out correctly could, in turn, save you on support fees.
In order to determine what you can afford, as far as support, it would make sense that you would have to provide any additional assets that were not previously disclosed. This helps determine your net worth.
The third page seems to be the most challenging for many people and by challenging; I mean they fudge the numbers. This page requires disclosure of the people who live with them, their average monthly expenses, installment payments, debts and attorney fees paid.
Who lives with you
The first section on this page, disclosing who lives with the party, is straightforward and not very complicated.
Average Monthly Expenses
However, many people fail to disclose the truth when it comes to their average monthly expenses. Many state that their total monthly expenses exceed their income and they have no debt. As a result, it would seem that they are intentionally minimizing their income, their expenses, or their debt. It is very important to take the time to actually figure what your average monthly expenses are and disclose them as accurately as possible.
Installment Payments and debts not listed
Again, this is another section that people tend to fudge. Be sure to list all the payments you have, including; credit cards, televisions, couches, cars, etc. Be sure to include ALL your debts. Don’t fudge or hide these figures, it is fairly easy to determine if you are telling the truth or not.
If you have any confusion in filling out this section ask your attorney whichever applies to you. The attorney will have on record all the answers to these questions. The only thing they will not know is what the source of your money is, you are the only one that has the answer to that.
Page four only applies if you are requesting child support. Therefore, you probably only need to fill out this page out if your case involves child support. This page is very straight forward, simply disclose how many children you have, the percent of time you spend with them or their schedule.
Also, include in the next section the children’s health care expenses including their insurance and costs. Further, include any additional expenses which are listed.
Next, provide any special hardships for the court to consider. These hardships tend to be significant and you are not likely to forget about them. Be sure to include it though.
Last, take advantage of the form by providing any additional information you want the Court to take into consideration not already covered. It could prove to be very beneficial for you but, make sure it is relevant.
As advised at the beginning of this blog, be honest. Always consider that you could be questioned about this form by opposing counsel on cross examination. And remember, if it is found you are lying you will be punished. Your punishment may not be jail time but it could be sanctions or higher support fees. So, be mindful and be honest, that is the key.
If you run into any problems or would like further explanation of this process do not hesitate to contact us at 1-877-877-1-LAW or visit us at www.sullivankrieger.com.