Preparing a Financial Affidavit
This article is part two in a blog series on Buncombe County’s financial affidavits for cases involving support claims. Our previous post, Understanding Financial Affidavits, provides an introduction to this local form.
When preparing a financial affidavit, the best policy is to be honest and realistic. We recommend that you review and verify all financial documents that pertain to your current income and expenses, as well as drawing parallels to the marital standard of living. Documents that should be reviewed and provided to your attorney include: mortgage statements, tax bills, utility bills, insurance premiums, monthly bank account statements, credit card statements, check registers, and other records that will ensure the accuracy of your expenses. You should remember to include expenses that may be paid on a quarterly or annual basis such as property taxes and insurance premiums. As another example, if you have a home security system that costs $150 every three months, you should include $50 per month for a security system on your financial affidavit even though there is not a line item for this specific utility. Additionally, if you have your car washed three times per month and it costs $10 to wash your car, it would be appropriate to include an additional $30 in the category of “auto expense.” Tax returns and wage statements can be helpful in documenting income from all sources.
The financial affidavit includes a separate column to itemize “anticipated expenses.” An example of a situation in which you might list an anticipated expense is if you have moved out of the former marital home and are currently residing with your parents. Under this scenario, you could list the anticipated expense you might incur for your own housing. You should be able to explain how you arrived at this anticipated expense, and that may be that you have researched the housing market and found that a two-bedroom condominium in your child’s school district will cost $2,000 per month, or you have found comparable housing which is consistent with the marital standard of living. Another example of an anticipated expense could be orthodontia treatment for your minor child. If your dentist has informed you that your child needs braces, but the minor child is not actually incurring orthodontia expense at the time the financial affidavit is filed, an estimate could be obtained from the orthodontist showing the cost of the orthodontia and the average monthly expense that will need to be paid for the child’s dental work. An anticipated expense should be an expense that you anticipate incurring in the very near future, not an expense that is purely speculative.
It is important to remember that judges have authority to use their own judgment in determining whether expenses listed for a child or either party are reasonable and necessary. A judge may decrease or reject any expenses listed on a financial affidavit that are found to be excessive or unreasonable. The family court judges who preside over family law cases in Buncombe County District Court live in Buncombe County. Judges know from personal experience, and the wide range of cases over which they preside, the typical costs associated with living in this area.
Determining accurate figures for your average monthly expenses and income can be an onerous task that is time-consuming and overwhelming. Yet, preparing and filing a complete and accurate financial affidavit is vital to the outcome of the support claims at issue in your case. If you and your spouse are not able to resolve your support claims outside of court, and your case goes to trial, the opposing party’s attorney may put your financial affidavit under a microscope and examine in detail each expense you have itemized, as well as the income reported. Therefore, you must be prepared to defend and explain the figures listed on your financial affidavit, and preferably be prepared to provide supporting documentation, if necessary.
If one party has primarily managed the family’s financial matters, it may be more difficult for the other party to compile the information and documentation that is necessary to prepare the financial affidavit. Prior to a court hearing, each party has an opportunity to conduct discovery and may challenge the reasonableness and veracity of the incomes and expenses asserted by the other through additional discovery or at trial.
The family law attorneys at Siemens Family Law Group are accustomed to providing fundamental guidance throughout all aspects of your case. We can assist you in preparing a financial affidavit that contains the details that are essential to your support claims. We understand that the child support or spousal support that you are awarded, or support that you may have to pay, can set the stage for your post-divorce financial future. You can count on our dedicated family law attorneys to work hard on your behalf to ensure that your matters are settled fairly, favorably, amicably, and as expeditiously as possible. If you need assistance with a divorce or family-related legal matter, contact us to see how we can help.
This article is intended for information purposes only and is not to be considered or substituted as legal advice. This article is based on North Carolina laws in effect at the time of posting.