Entering the Florida divorce process, as the initiator or not, can be an overwhelming experience. There are many issues to consider in order to determine the best course of action for your situation. Things like alimony, child custody and support, property division and temporary living arrangements will be at the forefront of any divorce proceeding and will require both spouses to make an initial assessment as to what items are agreed to or not. Since most divorces have some degree of contention that will ultimately be decided by the court, both parties are required to submit a completed copy of the Family Law Financial Affidavit to the other side outlining the types of financial resources each party has. Because this information is crucial to the divorce process and will likely take a substantial amount of time to gather, an outline of the specific information each spouse must disclose, along with when disclosure is not required, will be discussed.Mandatory Financial Disclosures
The overarching purpose of the financial disclosures from both spouses is to ensure the court can make a full and fair assessment of the parties’ ability to support themselves and any minor children. Once a divorce petition is served, each spouse has 45 days to provide the necessary information to the other side. The Affidavit must be filed with the court as well. If it is later discovered that one or both spouses withheld relevant financial information, a court can void any agreement or order decided on the faulty information, requiring the issue be re-litigated.
A detailed accounting of following types of information are required in the Financial Affidavit:
- annual and monthly gross income from all sources, including pensions, Social Security benefits, rental income and unemployment;
- monthly deductions related to income tax withholdings, Medicare payments, health insurance and child support paid for children not involved in the present divorce case;
- monthly household expenses, including utilities, food, rent or mortgage payments and maintenance expenses;
- monthly car expenses, including gas, repairs, payments, registration fees and tolls;
- monthly expenses for children related to both spouses;
- monthly expenses for children from a previous relationship;
- monthly health, dental and life insurance expenses; and, finally
- other monthly expenses for things like pets, club dues, medical prescriptions and therapy sessions.
Although financial disclosures are required in the majority of divorce petitions, there are two instances the court will exempt a divorcing couple from these disclosures: spouses filing for a simplified divorce, or if the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case. A simplified divorce is only available when there are no contested issues between the spouses for a court to decide. Specifically, to qualify for a simplified divorce the following factors must be satisfied: at least one spouse meets the six-month residency requirement, both spouses agree the marriage is irretrievably broken, the couple has no minor children between them, neither spouse wants alimony, the parties have an agreement on property division, both spouses sign the divorce petition and both spouses agree to attend the final hearing where the court will dissolve the marriage.Consult an Attorney
Making the decision to file for divorce is life-changing and evokes many emotions and concerns. While Florida courts provide copies of the Affidavit online so residents can petition for divorce on their own behalf, having a trusted legal advisor to guide you through the divorce process is vital to obtaining the best outcome for you and your family. Stok Kon + Braverman, located in Boynton Beach and Fort Lauderdale, provide quality representation in family law matters and are available to confidentially discuss your case. Contact us today.