A: A financial statement is a snapshot of your current financial status.
The Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts require you to fill out a Financial Statement in divorce cases, separate support cases, custody cases, and child support cases. A financial statement is a snapshot of your current financial status. If your annual income is less than $75,000, you need to file a short form. If your income is more than $75,000 a year, file a long form.
The statement is organized to show your employer's contact information, gross weekly income from all sources, itemized deductions, weekly expenses, bank account balances, liabilities/debt, and assets. There are additional schedules that must be completed if a party is self-employed (Schedule A) or if the party owns rental property (Schedule B). If an attorney represents you, your attorney’s office will likely complete your financial statement with your involvement by providing true and complete financial information. Documents that you will be required to provide for the completion of your financial statement include but are not limited to:
- Tax returns for the previous year;
- Recent pay stubs;
- Utility bills such as those for gas, water, and eclectic;
- Telephone bills;
- Most recent mortgage statement, if applicable;
- Deed or other document that states date of purchase, purchase price and lot number, if you own a house or land.
The financial statement is perhaps the most important document a party files with the court in a family law case. The financial statement has two purposes:
- For you to explain your financial situation to the court; and
- For each party in the case to explain his or her financial situation to the other party.
Completion of your financial statement requires full disclosure. If you fail to disclose the required financial information or if you willfully misrepresent your financial status, you may be found guilty of perjury. Furthermore, financial statement fraud is deliberate misrepresentation, misstatement or omission of financial statement data for the purpose of misleading the reader and creating a false representation to the court. When you file a financial statement with the court, you are required to sign the statement. You signature indicates that the information you provide is true to the best of your knowledge. When signing your financial statement, you are signing under the penalties of perjury, therefore, untrue statements can lead to criminal prosecution. Each party must file a completed Financial Statement within forty-five (45) days after the Plaintiff delivers the Complaint to the Defendant. Thereafter, at each court hearing, unless within sixty (60) days of the other, you are required to update and re-file your financial statement.