The Sworn Financial Statement (SFS) made easy (sort of)
The Sworn Financial Statement (SFS) is an extremely important document in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. We cannot divide the marital estate until we know what the marital estate is, including your income, your assets and your debt. The rules require you to make full, honest and accurate disclosures, with severe penalties for failing to do so.
It looks harder than it is. In general, you have to take a financial snapshot of your life at that time. And nobody trusts you in divorce, which means that you have to provide supporting documentation for bills, etc.? ?
It is not meant to be perfect, although it should be accurate. People often exaggerate their expenses, but judges know they do, and good lawyers know where to look. It is far better to be accurate and as honest as you can be.
What about accurately valuing property? For most of the items we own, we don’t know what they are worth. A realtor can likely give you comparable prices based on houses in your area that have sold recently. Furniture, fixtures, and other household goods are valued as though you had to sell them today, at a garage sale or on Craigslist, not on the new purchase price. Cars are easy, because of the Kelly and NADA blue books. But many items must be valued as "unknown" because we don’t have an accurate figure. Guess too high, and you will stuck with the value. Guess too low and you look like you have stretched the truth.
With your SFS, you’re required to produce supporting documentation. People agonize over this, but it’s not hard. If you can get it, or you have it, you have to provide it. It’s easier and cheaper to do so than fight it. If your spouse has it, then just say that. Again, remember that the courts want you to err on the side of over-disclosing. At best, preparing your SFS is a painful, annoying, event.? But it is mandatory so you might as well do it right, and be accurate, rather than add to your pain by having the errors and omissions exposed at trial.
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