Why do I have to complete a financial declaration?

In family court matters, most clients are asked to complete a financial declaration to present to the Court and other parties.  When I make the request for my clients to complete this form, I am often met with a lot of questions and push back.  The reasons vary: they think it isn’t relevant because they reached an agreement, they are afraid that a judge will change their agreement because of what is shown on the financial declaration (good or bad), or they may just value their privacy.  So why do you have to complete a financial declaration?

alf_financialdeclarationRule 20 of the  South Carolina Family Court Rules states that whenever the financial condition of a party is relevant or is an issue to be considered by the court a financial declaration (on the court form) must be served and filed by all parties.  The rule requires filing and service prior to the first hearing (which is normally a temporary hearing) or within 45 days of filing.

You will be asked to complete a financial declaration whenever your financial condition is relevant or one of the issues being considered by the court.  In almost all circumstances, this will be required.  When there are minor children, financial declarations will be required when considering child support.  If alimony is an issue, the financial situation of the parties is certainly relevant.  Even if there are no child support or alimony issues, but the parties are dividing assets/debts as part of their divorce the financial declaration will be required.  Many judges will require a financial declaration even in the simplest of divorce cases.

Many people complete these financial very quickly without giving it much thought, but that can be very dangerous.  When presenting this information to the court, it is very important to remember a couple of things.  First, this document is one of the most important documents that the court will consider when determining the financial issues in your case.  Second, you are signing this document in the presence of a notary.  This is a sworn document and is the same as if you were testifying in front of a judge in open court.  That means it is subject to the same penalties as perjured testimony in court.



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