For those of you who have not finished your disclosures, please keep in mind that Colorado is an equitable distribution state. What does that mean to you and your future ex-spouse? It means that the Court will allocate the division of assets and debts equally between the parties.
That means you will need to disclose every marital asset and marital debt to your attorney. What is marital you ask? Marital is anything acquired or incurred during the marriage. So let’s say for instance that your wife has a credit card for Target and the balance on the account is $5,000.00. That debt is considered marital. On the flip side of that, let’s say that she has a 401 (k) that she’s been contributing to for the entire duration of the marriage. That asset is considered marital too.
When you are gathering your disclosures to bring to your attorney, make sure you have everything together. If you bring documents in sporadically, your paralegal will end up spending a long time reviewing the documents.
In an effort to help you gather your documents easily, I have covered the basic JDF financial affidavit.
Section 1 covers income.
The first question on a financial affidavit is: What is your gross monthly income?
This is your chance to gather your paystubs for the last three months.
The second question is do you have miscellaneous income?
Most people don’t have miscellaneous income, but if you do, this is your chance to gather that documentation. (If you have rental income, remember it’s the net that you get from the rental, whatever you pocket after the mortgage is paid).
Section 2 covers the Mandatory and voluntary deductions from your paycheck.
Your paralegal should be able to calculate all that information for you, but please remember to include how many people are covered under your health insurance.
Section 3 covers your living expenses.
Subsection A asks you to document your housing expenses.
This is your opportunity to gather your mortgage statements or rental agreement.
Subsection B asks you how much you spend on Utilities.
Of course, these amounts fluctuate so, gather your utility statements for the last three months or so and average what you spend.
Subsection C asks how much you spend on groceries and dining out.
Again, these amounts will fluctuate, so you might need to look at your bank statements and average what you spend.
Subsection D asks you to document any out-of-pocket medical expenses that you might have.
If you have prescriptions that you get filled every month, this is where you would document that expense.
Subsection E asks you to document your vehicle payments, insurance, and gas.
The amount you spend on gas will fluctuate depending upon the price, time of year, and how fuel-efficient your vehicle is. As far as the insurance and registration, figure out what you spend on that in a year and divide that number by 12.
Subsection F asks you to document any Children’s expenses that you might have.
Your child care expenses may fluctuate here depending on what time of year it is. If the kids are out of school on summer break, your daycare might be more expensive. You will probably need to update your financial affidavit once school is back in session.
Subsection G addresses your education expenses.
If you have a loan through Nelnet or another institution, that is technically a debt and that will need to be entered in the debts section of the financial affidavit. If you spend money on books and supplies, enter is in section G.
Subsection H addresses Child Support and Maintenance that you pay.
If you pay child support or maintenance to another family, you can document that information here. If you are providing your current spouse child support and maintenance, document that information here as well.
Subsection I addresses miscellaneous expenses.
If you have a membership to the YMCA, or if you rent movies or subscribe to the Gazette, this is where that documentation fits in. (You might be surprised when you add up all of your expenses for the month)
Section 4 covers your debts
Everything was smooth sailing until you flipped the page, right? If you’re like the majority of middle-class America, you have something to put in this section.
This section is a critical part of your case. Document every debt to the best of your ability. Include the date of the balance and what the expense was for. For every debt you add to this section, gather the monthly statements for each one.
When you find yourself procrastinating, just remember “equitable distribution”.
Whew. Now that this section is one, we move on to the assets section.
Section 5 covers your assets
Subsection A addresses the real estate that you might own.
You can find out how much you owe by looking at your mortgage statement. If you had your house appraised recently, you can enter that number as the estimated value you could sell it for. If you haven’t had an appraisal, you can look up the assessed value on the El Paso County Land Assessor. (Or you can have your paralegal look that up).
Subsection B addresses the motor vehicles that you own.
Be specific here. Your Attorney needs the make, model, and year so that the actual value can be assessed.
Subsection C addresses your bank and financial institutions
List every account that you or your spouse has. If you need more room, just write on the back of the page. Remember, your assets are offset against the debts. Gather the statements for the last three months for each account. If you can’t get your hands on your spouse’s statements, don’t worry, your spouse will need to disclose those.
Subsection D addresses Life Insurance
Most people don’t have Life Insurance apart from what their employers cover, but if you do have a Life Insurance policy, provide that documentation as well.
Subsection E is where you document household goods and furnishings.
You don’t need to list every item acquired during the marriage. Include big-ticket items. For instance, if you have a high definition 52” flat screen list that here. If you obtained a weight bench in 1996, it probably isn’t worth much now. So if you have a bunch of outdated items, just ballpark what you could get for them at a garage sale.
The remaining portion of the financial affidavit addresses stocks, bonds, pensions, retirement, and 401(k). Most people don’t have retirement accounts, but if you do, you will need to provide your attorney with your most current quarterly statement. Remember “equitable distribution”.
So, quick review here.
Mortgage statement or rental agreement
Proof of out-of-pocket medical expenses
Statements for any debt that you have
Vehicle loan documentation
Life Insurance policy
Most current quarterly statements for retirement accounts
It might seem like a lot, but keep in mind, the sooner you disclose this information, the closer you are to finishing up your case.