Any time there is a dispute or issue in a Probate and Family Court, the court requires that a complete and up-to-date financial statement be submitted. Many people think that this is no big deal and leave it until the day of court to fill it out. That would be a mistake. The court relies on the financial statement to calculate child support, alimony and property division. They can choose to deviate from the child support guidelines or the new alimony guidelines based on what’s contained in the financial statement. For that reason, it should be completed with extreme care.
If you make $75,000 or less per year in gross income (before taxes), then you fill out the Short Form financial statement. If you make more, then you fill out the Long Form financial statement. I will be writing the instructions below as if I am filling out a Short Form financial statement. For a Long Form, you should really seek the advice of an attorney for your case.
First the basics – the “Division” is the county your cases is located in and the docket number is the numerical number assigned to your case. These are important so that the court can properly file your financial statement with the correct case file.
The Personal Information section should be filled out completely except for the Social Security number portion. You can either omit this line or put only the last four digits. Everything else must be filled out completely.
Part 2 deals with all sources of income. This can be easily gleamed from a current pay stub. Take note that the figures being asked are weekly. If you have a monthly paycheck, then divide it by 4.3 (not 4 as is commonly done) to obtain the weekly amount. If you get paid bi weekly, then simply divide by 2. If you are self-employed, then you need to fill out an additional Schedule A. It is best to have your business accountant fill the Schedule A form for you. If you own income generating rental property, then you must fill out a separate Schedule B. Take special note of line item q which deals with contributions from other household members. If you live with parents or a partner, and they compensate you for household expenses, then you must list this. If however, you split the bills so that someone pays the electric and someone else pays the telephone bill, then simply list it in the expense section below.
Part 3 deals with taxes which can be calculated from your pay stub or tax returns. Remember to divide by 4.3 to get the weekly amount.
Part 4 should be auto-calculated if you are using the Court forms. If not, it is the sum of part 2 minus the sum of part 3 or basically your income after taxes.
Part 5 deals with items deducted from your paycheck automatically before it even gets to you and part 6 is simply your income minus taxes and other deductibles.
Part 7 deals with your gross income from the previous year. The court wants to know this because they want to determine if you have purposefully underemployed yourself for the sake of the court action.
Part 8 is really important because you can use this part to argue to the court why your child support or alimony should be reduced based on your inability to pay. If you have high expenses, and not simply because you like to spend money, then the court might consider a deviation if justified. These numbers have to calculated exactly and remember to divide monthly numbers by 4.3 to get the weekly equivalent.
Part 9 is where you put the amount in attorneys fees.
Part 10 and 11 is important when it comes to dividing assets in a divorce. It is important to list every single piece of real estate, retirement account, bank account or anything of value in this area. If there isn’t enough space, then separately attach an exhibit. If you neglect to list something and the other party finds out or the court finds out, it is not only considered perjury but it could cost you in a property division.