Category: Family Law
Like it or not, filling out your Financial Affidavit is an integral part of the divorce process in Illinois. Each party to the proceedings must share their financials with the other – completely and with full transparency – so that they can split up the marital estate and move forward.
The following are basic tips for filling out your Financial Affidavit. If you have specific questions regarding your case, reach out to an experienced Family Law Attorney in Evanston for guidance.
STEP 1: Acquiring Essential Documents
If you are considering getting a divorce, you must collect some important documents to prove the numbers you disclose in your Financial Affidavit. Before you start filling out the form, make sure you have complete copies of the following documents:
The Building Blocks of the Financial Affidavit
A blank Financial Affidavit is an intimidating document; it is long and requests an astounding number of financial figures. But it does not need to be scary. You can make your Financial Affidavit your own – a flexible document that reflects your financial reality. The following are the main sections of a Financial Affidavit and tips for filling them out.
You will need to input all the income you receive from all sources. Be meticulous in distinguishing between recurring and non-recurring sources of income, as well as those that may fluctuate over time. Make a note of income that is variable, such as sales commissions or discretionary bonuses, and include supporting documentation from the previous year. Additionally, it is imperative to differentiate between reported income and actual cash flow if there is a difference between the money you report and money you actually have. Be honest, and make sure the information you provide is complete.
You will list all your expenses related to your home, your self-care, and the care of our children, if applicable. Exercise care in distinguishing between fixed monthly expenses and those that vary monthly, often based on estimates. Be clear about what bills stay the same every month, like rent or your car payment, and what bills change, like food and entertainment. If you make guesses about some bills, write those down and indicate that you are estimating based on the past 12 months. Exclude any one-time, non-recurring expenses that could skew the averages. Also, make sure to show which bills are for your whole family and which ones are just for you.
Always reference the records you gathered before you began filling out your Financial Affidavit to substantiate the value and the date at which that value was determined for each asset or debt listed. Some things, like a house or business, might not have a clear value, and it is okay to say “To Be Determined” or mention that the investigation is ongoing concerning those assets.
Identify assets that could reasonably be considered non-marital property or partially non-marital property, which might encompass assets owned prior to the marriage, inherited assets, gifted property, and similar categories. For a more nuanced understanding of what counts as non-marital property in Illinois, refer to 750 ILCS 5/503(a).
Next Steps: Review for Accuracy
Following the initial draft, set aside your Financial Affidavit for a day or two, and then check it again with fresh eyes. Keep in mind that you could get in trouble if you knowingly or carelessly put wrong information in your Financial Affidavit. After the initial accuracy check, perform a second and third review of the document. This is a vital document, and if your case goes to court, you will be asked questions about it. Make sure it is accurate and complete.
Periodic Updates for Changes
Life is dynamic, marked by fluctuations in income, changes in living situations, and fluctuations in the value of assets and debts. Properties are bought and sold, and circumstances evolve. It is advisable to revisit your Financial Affidavit every few months to reflect substantial changes and provide the necessary supporting records.
Completing your Financial Affidavit is a laborious and time-consuming process that may at times feel overwhelming. Nonetheless, it is important to take it seriously. A comprehensive and honest Financial Affidavit is a necessary tool for resolving your Illinois divorce. Your skilled and experienced Evanston Divorce Attorney can help you ensure that your Financial Affidavit is filled out correctly and completely.