By Anthony C. Adamopoulos
In my many years of helping people through divorce, a re-occurring client choice always results in additional costs.
What is that choice? The client’s choice not follow Divorce Court instructions on how to complete it’s Financial Statement.
In all divorce cases, the most important document for the reviewing judge is the Probate and Family Court Financial Statement.
In an “uncontested” divorce, the judge reads the Financial Statement to help her or him decide whether to approve the parties’ Separation Agreement. It is not uncommon for a judge to refuse to approve an uncontested divorce case because Financial Statements did not conform to court instructions.
In contested cases, the Financial Statement helps the judge determine many issues, for example, the standard of living of a party, the needs of a party, and the honesty of a party.
Because a judge often asks parties questions about parts of their own Financial Statements, many divorce attorneys and divorce mediators have clients prepare their own Statements. Then, the clients can more easily answer the judge and, if necessary, defend what they themselves put in their own Statement.
Click here for a site that will start you off and then get you to the Divorce Court site:
Here is a list of the most ignored instructions that always result in extra cost:
Fill in your name and address;
Answer every question;
If an answer to a question is 0 or none, enter 0 or none;
All income and expenses are to be reported in weekly amounts with monthly figures being divided by 4.3;
List all assets and present value.
Why does failure to follow the instructions result in extra cost?
Because the divorce court wants its instructions followed, your attorney will have to point out what needs to be changed to comply with court instructions.
Your attorney or mediator will often use your Financial Statement to assist in preparing your Separation Agreement. The failure to properly complete the Financial Statement will result in delay and unnecessary time while the necessary information is got.
Because you are paying for legal or mediator time, the number of errors and the amount of resistance will result in avoidable fees.
The take away:
The court’s instructions are few and clear. Take the time to follow them and you will save time and cost.