Pay Attention to Your Financial Affidavits
In almost every kind of family law case, parties are required to fill out and complete financial affidavits. These are detailed accountings of income of every source and property that you may own. Many people fill these forms out haphazardly, or don’t fill them out at all, either out of laziness, or in a purposeful attempt to conceal information they think is damaging. However, financial affidavits are an important part of the dissolution process, and should be given attention.
Why Affidavits are Important
One of the biggest complaints that people in a divorce make is that their spouse’s financial affidavit is inaccurate or incomplete or that their soon-to-be-ex outright lied on the affidavit. Many people feel that if their spouse was untruthful in their financial affidavit, why should they have to be truthful?
Think of financial affidavits as a starting point. Even if incomplete or inaccurate, information on affidavits can be the springboard that leads to the discovery of more accurate information later on. That information may end up contradicting information on a financial affidavit, which brings us to our next point.
For example, if a party says they work for Company X, and they say they make half of what they are actually earning, the fact they listed Company X on the affidavit provides a basis to get records directly from Company X. Once those records are received, the truth will come out.
When Affidavits are Inaccurate
If it is discovered that the information on an affidavit is wildly inaccurate or incomplete, a party in a divorce can end up looking very bad before a judge. It is a crime to lie on the affidavit–it is sworn under oath, and can be the basis for perjury–although realistically, the state is usually not going to prosecute someone for lying on a financial affidavit.
However, showing that someone lied can ruin all credibility they may have had to the judge. It can undermine all of their testimony. In cases that turn on “he said/she said,” establishing credibility–or losing it because you lied on the affidavit–can be the difference between winning and losing a case.
Remember that for the purposes of an affidavit, lying or being incomplete by accident doesn’t matter much. When it is shown to a judge that a party submitted an inaccurate affidavit, it can harm that party’s case.
It can also make depositions more difficult. In many family law depositions, an attorney will go through a financial affidavit line by line with the party that filled it out. It is not a pleasant situation to be sitting in a deposition and not know why you put or left out vital information that should have been in your affidavit.
Make sure you have guidance every step of the way in your divorce. Our Tampa family law attorneys at The Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group can help you with your family law legal problems and questions.