By Jordan Levey
What is a Financial Affidavit and when is it used?
The Financial Affidavit is meant to be a full disclosure of an individual’s income, expenses, assets, and debts/liabilities. The Financial Affidavit helps each party, the attorneys, and the Court get a clear understanding of the financial issues in your case. The Financial Affidavit will be used by the Court to set temporary child support, temporary maintenance, contribution to attorneys’ fees, and other temporary financial issues.
Beginning in 2016, one form of the Financial Affidavit is used statewide throughout the State of Illinois. A copy of the Financial Affidavit can be found here: http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Forms/approved/divorce/Financial_Affidavit_Suite_Approved.pdf
Section 501(a)(1) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) provides that a request for child support or maintenance shall be accompanied by a Financial Affidavit. This means that in any case in which child support and/or maintenance is an issue, then the parties will need to complete Financial Affidavits. Additionally, pursuant to the relevant discovery rules, a party may send a Request for a Financial Affidavit to be completed by the other party in a case. The Court, on its own, may also request that the parties complete Financial Affidavits.
How do I complete my Financial Affidavit?
The Financial Affidavit includes detailed instructions about how to complete the form, but at first glance it can seem intimidating. Most people have income/expenses that fluctuate month-to-month to some degree. Therefore, the Financial Affidavit is meant to be a snapshot of your average monthly income/expenses and a full disclosure of your current assets and debts/liabilities.
You will need to complete the relevant background information regarding you, your spouse, your child(ren), and/or your employment. All income and expenses disclosed on your Financial Affidavit should be calculated on a monthly basis. If you have any income/expenses that occur less frequently than monthly (e.g., a one-time purchase), then you should divide that particular transaction by 12 months to calculate the monthly average. When calculating your income, remember that getting paid every two weeks is not the same as getting paid twice a month. If you receive a paycheck every two weeks, then you actually receive 26 paychecks per year (rather than 24). Some of the categories in the Financial Affidavit may not apply to you. For example, if you do not have any retirement accounts then you do not need to complete that section.
What do I need to provide in addition to my Financial Affidavit?
Section 501(a)(1) provides that “the financial affidavit shall be supported by documentary evidence including, but not limited to, income tax returns, pay stubs, and banking statements.” When completing your Financial Affidavit, you should put together all relevant documentation supporting the income, expenses, assets, and liabilities disclosed on your Financial Affidavit.
Will my Financial Affidavit become part of the public record?
No. While many components of your case will be made part of the public record, your financial affidavit should be excluded unless the court otherwise directs. This means that much of your private financial information will remain protected.
When do I need to update my Financial Affidavit?
Your finances will likely fluctuate and change during the period of time that your case is pending. As such, you may need to periodically update your Financial Affidavit to ensure that the information remains accurate. Any time there is a significant change (e.g., getting a new job, paying off a debt, buying a car, etc.) then you should update your Financial Affidavit. Your attorney or the Court may also request that you update your Financial Affidavit.
What if the other party’s Financial Affidavit is inaccurate?
If you believe the other party intentionally or recklessly filed an inaccurate or misleading Financial Affidavit, then you are entitled to request that the Court hold a Hearing to determine whether and why there is a disparity in the other party’s Financial Affidavit. If the Court may impose penalties and sanctions against a party who intentionally lies on his/her Financial Affidavit, including costs and attorneys’ fees.