When people start matters at domestic court, whether a new divorce or dissolution, or a post-decree matter concerning child support or spousal support, they will be required to fill out certain affidavits concerning their income and expenses, their debts and property, their children, health insurance and other matters.
An affidavit is a sworn statement, notarized, and purports to be the whole truth as you know it. Because this is your sworn statement, it is essentially testimony, therefore, your lawyer may not supply your answers. We can answer your questions about how to fill them out, or what information belongs where, but the responsibility of providing truthful information rests with you.
The first impression you make to the Court is made by that affidavit. It is a credibility test. Be realistic and come down to earth in your figures.
When estimating your monthly expenses in the future, past experience is a good guide. If you have a year’s worth of utility bills that rise in summer and decrease in winter (like electric bills when there is air conditioning) or rise in winter and decrease in summer (like gas heat), it is best to add up all twelve months and then divide to find a monthly average. Although your bill is $200 one month, there may be a $30 bill in another month, so writing $200 per month for the whole year is probably not true and not realistic.
If you have to estimate because you do not have accurate figures, or things are changing and you have to anticipate expenses or income, then do so reasonably.
On the assets and debts parts of the affidavits, Fair Market Value means the price you could now get from a willing buyer if you sell the item. It is not the purchase price or replacement value. It is more like garage sale value.
Values for vehicles can be researched online at www.kbb.com or another auto valuation service. If there has been no recent appraisal of real estate, the county auditor’s last valuation or www.zillow.com may provide some guidance. The most recent bank account statement, 401(k) statement, credit card bills, and mortgage statements will give you the balances as of a certain date. Balances do change, so it is important to note the date when the balance was the accurate figure. Sometimes a telephone call or online inquiry is required to get a payoff balance for a car loan or mortgage.
Do not anticipate whether your answer to any of the questions will help or hurt your case. As my grandmother used to say, “The truth will never hurt you, but lies will surely come back to haunt you.” Telling the truth means more than refraining from telling a lie: it means giving accurate information to the best of your ability.
If you are challenged on any of the information, once we get to court on a temporary orders hearing or other hearing and you have documentary proof that the figures you placed on your affidavit are indeed correct, it only takes a few instances when you have proved yourself to be completely truthful, that opposing counsel will stop wasting time challenging the information you have provided, and you will have entrenched your credibility in the hearing officer’s mind. So, tell the truth each time. Estimating is OK, but be down to earth and have a reason for the figures you estimate.
THIS INFORMATION IS INTENDED TO BE A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF GIVING INFORMATION ON AFFIDAVITS AND IS NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE ON YOUR PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES. IT IS ONLY INTENDED TO ASSIST YOU IN UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS.
IF YOU SHOULD HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT THE OFFICE TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT – 330-996-4099.