When you learn that you have to complete a financial declaration form in your divorce or family law matter, you may wonder why, or feel that your finances are none of the court’s – or the other party’s – business. However, Rule 20 of the South Carolina Family Court Rules requires that all parties to a divorce or family law matter in which finances are relevant complete a financial declaration on a form prescribed by the court. In almost all circumstances, the court will require that both parties complete the form, even if they have reached an agreement as to all matters. Since almost all family law cases involve the division of property and debts, payment of child support, and/or payment of alimony, both parties’ financial situations are relevant to the court.
Completing and Filing the Financial Declaration
A party must complete this form, file it with the court, and provide it to the other party either prior to the first court hearing, which is typically a temporary hearing, or within 45 days of the date on which the complaint was filed with the court. Far too many individuals do not spend the time necessary to make sure that their forms contain completely accurate information. However, failing to fill out the form completely or properly can result in problems in your case down the road. The court is going to consider the information on your form as evidence of your finances. Likewise, when you sign this form, you are swearing under oath that the information provided on it is true. Therefore, if the information on the form is not accurate, you technically are committing perjury, just as if you gave inaccurate information while testifying under oath in court.
Contents of the Financial Declaration Form
South Carolina’s financial declaration form consists of five pages on which you must list your assets, debts, income, and expenses. You may be required to update the form as your financial circumstances change throughout the court proceedings, since the information on the form must be current at all times. This is the case even if your legal proceeding is completely uncontested, or you and your ex are in agreement on all issues. By taking the time to look up necessary information and place it properly on the form, you can make sure that any court orders that are based on your financial information are completely accurate. Even if you must go through dozens of account statements and other paperwork, it will be worth it in the end to get an accurate financial picture on file with the court.
Potential Penalties for Failing to Submit a Financial Declaration Form
Not only can inaccurate or missing financial declaration forms lead to inaccurate support orders and property or debt division orders, but you can be penalized by the court, as well. If you lie or “accidentally” forget to include some financial information on the form, you and/or your attorney can be subject to sanctions under South Carolina law. Additionally, do not rely on your attorney to point out any mistakes that you have made. While your attorney can spot major errors or inconsistencies in the information that you have provided on the financial declaration form, he or she does not know every detail of your financial life. It’s up to you to fill out the form accurately and completely.
Legal Help is a Phone Call Away
Whether you are facing a divorce, child custody proceeding, or another type of family law matter, legal assistance is essential to your ability to successfully resolve your case. Contact the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC, and set up an appointment to learn how we can help.