A Financial Affidavit is a sworn statement that contains details about your income, assets, debts, expenses, and other financial obligations. Financial Affidavit forms are most commonly used during divorce proceedings to help the court calculate spousal or child support.
The financial details disclosed in a Financial Affidavit must be complete and accurate or you risk being penalized for perjury.
1. What is a Financial Affidavit?
A financial affidavit is a legal document detailing the signer’s financial circumstances. Like other affidavits, a financial affidavit is a sworn statement. The signer affirms and represents the contents are a true and complete representation of their financial situation to the extent the situation is detailed in the affidavit. Not all financial affidavits contain the same information.
Of course, depending on the purpose of the affidavit, more or less financial information may be required. As a general rule, income and revenue are considered essential when calculating a child support obligation, where expenses are generally not. Consequently, a financial affidavit in a child support proceeding may not require a detailed list of debts and expenses.
Bankruptcy, on the other hand, looks at your entire financial situation, and thus, may require more information. A financial affidavit will identify the following elements:
- Affiant: the person making the affidavit.
- Employer: the name and address of the person or company employing the affiant.
- Sources of income: all sources of income of the affiant, including; rental, investment, self-employment, unemployment, or disability income.
- Salary deductions: the monthly deductions from the affiant’s salary, including; federal income tax, social security, state income tax, medicare, health insurance, and more.
- Monthly expenses: the monthly household expenses and liabilities for the affiant, specifically; mortgage payments, utilities, gas, automobile insurance, property taxes, rent, and more.
As a reference, financial affidavits are also referred to as:
- Financial Statement Affidavit
- Financial Disclosure Affidavit
- Financial Affidavit for Support
- Family Law Financial Affidavit
- Affidavit of Financial Information
- Confidential Financial Affidavit
Financial Affidavit Sample PDF
This sample financial affidavit below is a record of the financial situation of a fictional “Elizabeth Holland”. The affidavit details Elizabeth Holland’s income, as well as any deductions and expenses she had.
2. When a Financial Affidavit is Needed
Because an affidavit is considered equivalent to sworn testimony, a financial affidavit may be used any time testimony about financial circumstances might be offered. In other words, financial affidavits are generally required for things related to the judicial system. They are relied upon by the courts as a substitute for live testimony.
The purpose of a financial affidavit is to provide the court with a snapshot of your current financial situation. The court then relies on this snapshot when making legal decisions about your future. The decision could be about child support, alimony, or the division of assets in a family law matter. The decision might be about whether you qualify for free legal services in a criminal matter.
Alternatively, a financial affidavit may be relied upon in order to determine whether to waive fees most people pay in the court system, such as filing fees, transcript fees, or experts.
3. Consequences of Not Having a Financial Affidavit
In any case where a financial affidavit is requested, you should keep in mind the court needs this information in order to make a just and equitable decision. Without an affidavit, you risk opening yourself up to several issues. First, the court may require you to take the stand and testify under oath. In this case, you would be expected to answer the very same questions the affidavit seeks to answer, such as:
- How much money do you make?
- Do you have any assets?
- Do you have any other sources of income or revenue?
- Are you receiving or paying child support or alimony?
- What are your expenses?
- What are your debts and other obligations?
Alternatively, not having an affidavit may result in simply not obtaining the service or relief sought. On the other hand, the failure to complete the requested affidavit may result in a court guessing at your financial circumstances.
This rarely results in a decision in your favor. Finally, if financial information is required, in a situation such as determining how much you owe in child support, refusal to provide the information, either in the form of testimony or an affidavit, could result in a finding of contempt of court.
4. Common Uses of a Financial Affidavit
Financial Affidavits can be used in a variety of legal situations where a court needs to take a look into your finances in order to resolve a child support allocation, divorce settlement, and even in some criminal cases.
- Family Law: The most common situations for a financial affidavit involve family law issues. For example, if you divorce, a financial affidavit provides you, your soon to be ex-spouse, and the court, with necessary information. This allows you to negotiate, or the court to decide appropriate property division, alimony, and child support. Even in child support cases where the parents were never married, courts rely on a financial affidavit in allocating degrees and amounts of financial responsibility of each party for the support of a child in common.
- Bankruptcy: Financial affidavits may also be used in bankruptcy court. As with family law matters, courts review your assets and debts, income and expenses, in determining the appropriate way to resolve a bankruptcy matter.
- Legal Aid: Finally, a financial affidavit may be required if you apply for the services of a public defender or legal aid. The United States Constitution guarantees legal representation in criminal cases, even if you can’t afford an attorney. If you are in this situation, you may be asked to provide financial information to determine whether you qualify for an attorney paid for by the state or county where the alleged crime occurred.
What if I can’t afford the filing fees?
If you want to file a lawsuit, but cannot afford the filing fees, you can file “in forma pauperis.” This filing tells the court you don’t have the financial means to pay for court fees such as filing fees, or the cost of a transcript, or hiring an expert.
This can be done in both civil and criminal matters, including criminal appeals in state and federal court. Your representation, along with a financial affidavit to support your position, are reviewed to determine whether you meet local government guidelines for assistance.
5. What to Include in a Financial Affidavit
As a preliminary matter, a financial affidavit includes personal information. This can include name, address, phone number, social security number, and date of birth. Depending on the purpose of the affidavit, it also asks for income, other sources of revenue, assets, debts, and expenses (detailed below).
Additionally, because the purpose of the form is providing the court a picture of financial circumstances, in some cases you can expect the form will ask about who else lives in the household, and who else you are financially responsible for. It may also ask for information about the income and obligations of others in the household, such as a spouse. Below is a non-exhaustive list of income, revenue, assets, debts, and expenses.
Hourly rate of pay;
|Other sources of revenue||Government assistance, such as food stamps;
Collections such as coin collections, stamp collections, or baseball cards;
Vacation time shares;
Other items of value.
|Liabilities or debts||Loans;
Lines of credit;
Personal loans owed to family or friends;
Credit card debt;
Tax debts; and
|Expenses||Court ordered child support;
Court ordered alimony;
Bills associated with running a household.
The person detailing their financial information must sign the document before a notary public. A notary public must also sign the affidavit and affix her stamp. This notarizes the document. While the table above distinguishes between income and assets, not knowing whether something is an asset or income is not as important as reporting the income or asset.
If you are unsure if something is a debt or an expense, or income as opposed to an asset, just be sure to list it somewhere. The court can figure it out.
6. Financial Affidavit FAQs
I can’t afford the case filing fee to take someone to small claims court. What should I do?
Each state has its own list of information needed to assess financial assistance. You should search your state’s website. Locate their version of “In Forma Pauperis.” This document, properly filled out and filed with the court, initiates a court determination determining whether to waive court costs and fees.
If I’m required by the court to fill out a Financial Affidavit, do I have to be completely truthful about everything I own?
Yes. The financial affidavit is a legal document. In it, you swear the representations you make are true and correct. Consequently, lying, or failing to disclose all your assets can result in perjury charges. Perjury carries both civil and criminal consequences.
I have criminal charges. How do I get an attorney?
Different jurisdictions approach this differently. However, in order to get a free or low-cost attorney, you must establish you qualify under the state or county’s guidelines. You can expect the court will ask about your financial circumstances.