The most common mistake you can make in completing your Financial Affidavit is not listing all your income. Income is not just the money you make at a job. Income is any money coming into your household for a variety of reasons. These are the 6 most common things that are not listed on your Financial Affidavit.
- Tips – If you are a tipped employee (waitress, bartender, Uber/Lyft, etc), you must list the amount of tips you earn on a monthly basis. In order to get an accurate amount, average out all the tips you earned in the last six months divided by six months in order to get a monthly average.
- Bonuses – Even if you only receive an annual bonus, if you received that bonus for the last three years, it should be included on your financial affidavit. Take your annual bonus and divide it by twelve (months) in order to get a monthly amount that you receive for bonuses. If you receive more than one bonus per year, you want to calculate how much you receive on a monthly basis. The best way to do that is to average a six-month bonus period and divide it by six (months) in order to get a monthly average.
- Food Stamps – Although food stamps/EBT/Snap is government assistance, it is still considered income. It is a benefit provided to you that helps offset your regular expenses. Include the amount you receive monthly from your food stamps as your income. Remember to list this amount as an expense also. If you are using all of your food stamp benefit each month, these numbers should cancel out.
- Housing – If you receive any type of housing benefit from your company, from the Housing Authority, from Section 8, you must list this as your income. If your company, Housing Authority, or Section 8 covers all or part of the cost of your housing that is a benefit provided to you that helps offset your regular expenses. If they were not paying for your housing, you would be paying for your housing. List the monthly amount any other entity covers on your Financial Affidavit.
- Money from others – It is also important to list any money you regularly receive from people who are helping you out. If you receive $200.00 per month from a roommate, list the monthly amount you receive as income. If you regularly receive $300.00 per month from your sister to cover the bills, you need to list that as monthly amount you receive. On the other hand, if you only receive these amounts sometimes (say once every three months), it is not regular income and it does not need to be listed.
- Bills that others pay – The most common mistake here is in the form of a cell phone bill. If you are on your brother’s cell phone plan and he usually pays the bills that is considered income for purposes of the Courts. Even though your brother does not hand you money each month, he is covering your expenses. If he was not paying that expense, you would have to pay it. If your mother pays the electric bill at your home, the Court considers this as income and you should list the monthly amount of the expense. Any money that someone else pays to cover an expense for you should be listed as income.
When you do not accurately list your income to the Courts, the Judge and the opposing party may believe you are not being truthful about other items in your case also. Starting with an accurate, truthful, detailed Financial Affidavit is a good way to build your credibility with the Court.