Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Financial Affidavit in a Georgia Divorce

The financial affidavit is the most important document in any divorce case.   Judges rely on the financial affidavit to get a snapshot of the situation, from how old the parties are, how long have they been married, what assets do they have, what debts, and most importantly, what income do the parties have.    Often during emotional testimony at trial you will notice a judge listening with one ear while reviewing the financial affidavits and using his calculator to determine what's fair.   While the Court does care about your testimony,  at the end of the day financial issues are the Court's primary concern.

In my opinion the most important aspects of a good financial affidavit are that they are complete, detailed and accurate.  A good divorce attorney will take considerable time with their client drafting and revising a financial affidavit.   I am always concerned when an lawyer just presents an affidavit filled out by their client without the lawyer's review.

There is a temptation to embellish on a financial affidavit.   For a spouse seeking child support and alimony there is a temptation to overstate needs; for a spouse paying child support and alimony there is a temptation to understate income.   A good lawyer will cross examine you if you put "whoppers" on your affidavit and make you look silly.   For example, if you claim a $500.00 per month need for vacations, or exorbitant needs for pet care, a judge may think you are either a liar or unable to control your spending.   It is more effective to put ALL of your expenses on the affidavit than exaggerate any one expense.

The best way as a client to begin filling out a financial affidavit is to take real numbers from your checking account statement to determine what you spend on food, utilities, etc...    Then when the opposing attorney asks: "Do you really spend $600.00 per month on FOOD!!"  you can respond by stating  "Do  you want to see my bank statement?   That's where the figure came from!!"

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Please call if you need legal representation to Thomas F. Tierney at (770) 631-1100 or e-mail at   Thomas F. Tierney is an attorney who represents clients in south metro Atlanta, including Fayette County, Coweta County, Peachtree City, Tyrone, Fayetteville, and Newnan Georgia.