Articles Posted in Financial affidavits

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Litigation, in which parties argue their cases before a judge, is only a small part of what happens in Florida’s family law courts. Courts deal with agreements as much as, or more than, they do with disagreements. One might not think of the words “agreement” and “divorce” as belonging together in the same sentence, but many aspects of divorce in Florida today resemble contractual agreements more than they resemble a situation in which one party wins and the other loses. For example, a parenting plan is a detailed custody agreement in which parents agree on parenting decisions, large and small, from which parent has the final say about non-emergency medical treatment for the children to decisions about drop-off and pick-up from one parent to another.  Another detailed document used in Florida family law courts is the financial affidavit, which is used to determine division of property, rather than details of child custody. Here are some frequently asked questions about the family law financial affidavit in Florida.

Q: What is a Financial Affidavit, and How is it Used?

A: A financial affidavit looks a lot like an itemized tax return. It is a document on which couples in the process of divorce list their income sources and expenses, and where they classify their assets and liabilities as marital or non-marital property. The purpose of the document is to determine equitable distribution of property, including spousal support payments, if any.  Couples with and without children must file a financial affidavit. Continue reading

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A financial affidavit must be filed in an initial divorce proceeding as well as in supplemental dissolution proceedings.  Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285 (e)(1) requires the service and filing of a financial affidavit in supplemental dissolution proceedings within 45 days of service of the initial pleading on the respondent.

In child support modification proceedings, Florida Statute 61.30(14) provides that the respondent shall include his or her financial affidavit with the answer to the petition no later than 72 hours prior to any hearing regarding the finances of either party.

The requirement to provide a financial affidavit in supplemental proceedings cannot be waived by the parties.

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In dissolution of marriage actions, attorney’s fees are frequently awarded when there is a large disparity in the parties incomes. Generally speaking, the underlying premise is to “put the litigants on an even playing field.” Both parties should have the ability to retain and be represented by competent counsel throughout the dissolution of marriage proceedings. This holds true whether the proceedings are in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, or anywhere else throughout the state of Florida.

The award of attorney’s fees is governed by Florida Statute 61.16, which is titled as Attorney’s fees, suit money and costs. An award of attorney’s fees requires both of the parties to appear in front of the judge and to present their evidence regarding income, expenses, and their respective needs for an attorney’s fee request.

A judge has the discretion to make an award of attorney’s fees on both a temporary basis as the case is progressing, as well as on a permanent basis as the case is concluding.

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In a case recently decided, a wife was awarded an astounding sum of $75,000.00 per month for temporary support for herself and her child. Stanton v. Stanton, 2D10-919 (2010).

The appellate court said this amount simply could not stand, as the amount was not supported by competent substantial evidence.

The trial court should consider the standard of living in addition to the need of one spouse and the other spouse’s ability to pay. de Gutierrez v. Gutierrez, 19 So.3d 1110, 1113 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009).

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coins question mark desktop.jpgIn every dissolution of marriage action filed in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, or anywhere else throughout the state of Florida, the parties are required to file a financial affidavit which details their income, expenses, assets and liabilities. The importance of filing this document in an accurate manner cannot be over emphasized.

What happens when assets are not disclosed by a party to the divorce proceeding?

In Romero v. Romero, 959 So.2d 333 (Fla. 3DCA 2007), the husband failed to disclose stock options he had received over the course of the marriage, and which the wife was unaware of. They were ultimately discovered by her after the proceedings concluded, and she subsequently tried to reach them through the use of a constructive trust.