The legal documents you must complete and sign during a divorce can be overwhelming to many people who are unfamiliar with the legal process and language. Mistakes or oversights when filling out financial documents can have negative repercussions down the road.
For instance, if you are divorcing in Maricopa County, you are required to complete an Affidavit of Financial Information. This document plays a critical role in decisions regarding child support, alimony and property division. You should keep in mind the following tips to help you avoid confusion and legal missteps.
- Be accurate. It is critical that financial information be as accurate as possible. Remember that these are legal documents and lying can lead to severe penalties. When answering questions about monthly expenses and budgets, be diligent when figuring out estimated or anticipated costs. Do not minimize or inflate the figures in hopes of controlling the financial outcome of your case.
- Be thorough. Leaving information out of a financial document can be just as problematic as including false information. Whether an omission was intentional or not, an exclusion could lead to allegations of dishonesty or fraud. Make sure you carefully read and review every document in its entirety before you sign or file it.
- Do your research. The information you must include in a financial affidavit may not be readily available to you. Rather than guess or skip over something, take the time to get accurate information. You may need to dig through old records or request documents from financial institutions, so don't wait until the last minute to start getting everything together.
- Don't skip over anything. Failure to complete a document in full causes delays and confusion and can potentially get you in hot water with the court. Keep notes while you are working so you don't forget to come back to sections that need more information from you. If a section does not apply to you or your situation, write "Not Applicable" in the space provided. Don't assume a judge will know that something left blank means it doesn't apply.
Keeping these tips in mind can make it easier to tackle the financial elements of a divorce so you can seek the fair outcome you deserve.