The Importance of the Income and Expense Declaration Form

The Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150) is one of, if not the most important document during the pendency of a family law matter.   The Income and Expense Declaration is important since it is used for a variety of financial issues in a family law case.  The declaration is required by a court to determine issues such as child support, spousal support (alimony), attorney fees, and other financial related issues.  Also, the Income and Expense Declaration comprises part of the Declaration of Disclosure which is required in every divorce proceeding.  Parties can not get divorced without exchanging their Declarations of Disclosure hence a person must complete an Income and Expense Declaration.

In addition, the parties must have a current Income and Expense Declaration filed with the court before a hearing,  trial, or any other time that the court will make a determination on an issue which may require considering the parties’ finances. One common mistake is when a party believes that since they have previously filed an Income and Expense Declaration that it will still be acceptable at a later date.  Under Rules of Court §5.260(a)(3), “‘Current’ means the form has been completed within the past three months or when facts have changed. The form must be sufficiently completed to allow the court to make an order.”  This is important to consider since the period of time between appearing in court usually exceeds three months at a time.

Unfortunately, another problem is that parties rarely put the effort and time into properly preparing their Income and Expense Declaration or believe that their attorney can do it for them.  The Income and Expense Declaration is a snap shot of a person’s finances including their income and obligations. For that reason, attorneys are not able to prepare the Income and Expense Declaration without significant input from their client. A party is the most knowledgeable person regarding their own financial situation.

A poorly completed or inaccurate Income and Expense Declaration can create additional problems for a party such as being attributed too much or too little income when calculating child or spousal support.  It is important that a party fill out an Income and Expense Declaration as completely and accurately as possible.  Experienced Family Law Attorneys frequently use the Income and Expense Declaration for cross examination in court. So for that reason, it is even more important to spend the time necessary on your Income and Expense Declaration.

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