When dealing with a family law case, filling out a Form 13 financial statement is the first step when starting your proceedings in Family Court. Here’s our quick guide on everything you need to know about these financial statements and how to get started.
What Is a Financial Statement?
A financial statement is essentially a sworn or affirmed document in the form of an affidavit. As part of a financial statement, you will be required to provide your employment details, total earnings, and investment income including interest payments and dividends, as well as all of your financial resources.
Why Are Financial Statements Important for Family Law Cases?
A financial statement is important in the context of family law. This is because it ensures that in the event of a marriage or de facto relationship ending, both parties will have all the necessary documents in order to assist in division of properties and resources.
When drafting a financial statement, the party swearing or affirming the document must ensure that the contents of the statement are true and correct. The party should not have any other source of income, property or financial resources that are not included in the statement. In the event that there are changes to a party’s financial position during the proceedings, that party must file an amended financial statement, setting out their current financial circumstances.
Non-disclosure of relevant financial details can have serious consequences on the party, such as impacting their credibility as a witness in proceedings and/or result in a costs order against them. This is why you must always complete your financial statement carefully.
What Do Financial Statements Include?
A financial statement is a document that provides the court with an understanding of the party’s financial circumstances.
These details include:
- The party’s employment details.
- The party’s income, including income derived from a salary, business or company entity, government benefits or child support or spousal maintenance.
- Any details pertaining to other income earners in the party’s household.
- Details regarding any expenses paid by another person for the benefit of the party.
- All records of personal expenditure including taxation expenses, additional superannuation contributions, mortgage or rental payments, rates or levies, insurance premiums, loan or credit card repayments, child support or spousal maintenance payments and all other expenditure.
- A list of all the assets held by the party, including real property, funds held in bank accounts, investments, motor vehicles, personal property and household contents.
- Records of interests held by the party in any superannuation funds.
- Any liabilities including their mortgage, outstanding income taxation assessments and loans, and credit cards.
- A list of all financial resources held by the party including any interest in a trust or a deceased estate.
- Details pertaining to the disposal of any property, including the sale of a property or a vehicle.
5 Tips for Putting Together Your Financial Statements
1. Complete Your Duty of Disclosure
In order to properly draft a financial statement, you must fulfil your duty of disclosure. As part of your family law dispute, your financial statement disclosure means that everyone involved must provide one another with financial information relevant to the case. You must ensure to provide all information, either by means of paper documents or computerised versions.
Your duty begins with the pre-action procedure — this starts before the case — and you must uphold this duty until the case is finalised. Therefore, if your circumstances change or an event happens that changes what you have previously disclosed, you must disclose your new financial circumstances. This may mean submitting an amendment or amended financial statement.
2. Remember Full & Frank Disclosure Is Required in Financial Cases
While general disclosure requirements apply to family law cases, if your case is related to financial issues, there are additional rules that need to be followed to ensure you provide full and frank disclosure. Disclosure must include the party’s total direct and indirect financial circumstances. This can include listing all sources of earnings, interest, income, property and other financial resources.
Whether you own these resources or assets, receive them through another person or beneficiary, or they are held in corporations, trusts, companies or similar, you need to disclose them. In instances like these, it’s better to aim to disclose more than required than to risk not meeting the requirements.
3. Fill Out the Right Form
You must file a Form 13 financial statement for Family Court. This form is a prescribed Family Court form, setting out your current income, expenses, assets, liabilities and financial resources. You may also be ordered to file a Form 13 in a custody case.
If the form, for whatever reason, doesn’t fulfil your duty of disclosure, you must also file an affidavit. This should list the additional particulars not recorded on the form.
As noted above, it is possible that your financial circumstances may change once you file your statement. If this happens, you have only 21 days from the change in circumstances to submit your amended financial statement. Alternatively, if the amendments can be set out clearly in 300 words or less, you are permitted to present an affidavit containing details about your changed financial circumstances.
4. Take Your Time to Complete Your Financial Statements
The key to filing a successful financial statement is to ensure you complete the form carefully and thoroughly, without leaving out any details.
For instance, if you do not know the answer to any question on the form, you can write ‘NK’ to indicate that the answer is ‘Not Known’. If the answer is not relevant to your circumstances, you can enter ‘NA’, indicating that it is ‘Not Applicable’. If the answer to the question is zero, then enter ‘NIL’, and if a figure is an estimate, then enter the letter ‘E’ prior to the figure.
5. Seek Help When You Need It
Given your likely familiarity with your financial circumstances, you can complete your financial statement by yourself. There is no legal requirement to seek counsel or advice. In fact, the Family Court has a kit specifically designed for self-represented litigants to assist them in completing the affidavit and other necessary steps to resolve family matters. However, it is important to remember that failing to include any essential details in your statement can have a serious impact on your credibility in the eyes of the Court.
Family law cases are complicated and can leave you feeling highly stressed out and alone. In a state like this, it can be easy to miss out on important information or fill out the form incorrectly when doing it yourself. This is why we always recommend seeking the help of a financial agreement lawyer to ensure you are on the right track. Working with an experienced lawyer can also be the easiest way to complete your financial statement.
Choose Duffy & Simon Today!
Having a reputable team on your side when dealing with family law cases can really help alleviate the stress that comes with the process. Our financial agreement lawyers at Duffy & Simon can provide you with deft drafting services and advice to ensure that your financial statement is fit for purpose. Call our highly experienced family lawyers on (03) 8566 9893 for advice or help with drafting your financial statement today!