One of the most important documents in nearly every
child support case is the Statement of Net Worth. This document, which is signed under
oath, is the statement detailing all assets and debts whether separate
or marital and income from all sources.
While clients often hate the drudgery of having to complete it, I always
tell them that their spouse or other parent (in Family Court support cases)
will also have to complete the same form. The lawyers then exchange each
client's completed statement so that they can review what the other
side represents as to their
assets, debts and income.
While it is often common not to know the answers to all of the questions
or the current value of an asset, it is especially important to list the
asset. Clearly there are many people who may not know the full extent
of their spouse's assets because of secrecy, so I advise those clients
to just do the best that they can and I will help find the assets of which
they are unsure. I would much prefer to have a client tell me that they
own two homes, the location, the year they purchased it and if title is
in both names even if they do not know the current estimated value and
the amount of money owed on the mortgage.
The monthly expenses are very important because if there is a
maintenance claim it is very important to know how much money is needed to meet the
reasonable needs of both sides. One person can't have it all and leave
the other person with no money for themselves or their children.
If a client or the other party inflates their living expenses they lose
credibility. If a person omits significant assets or grossly misrepresents
the value of an account, why should the court believe everything else
that they say. At depositions and at trial the Statement of Net Worth
is a document that is ripe for blistering cross-examination if incomplete,
inaccurate and misleading.
My advice to all clients is to prepare it completely and as reasonably
accurate as possible so that your honesty and integrity cannot be questioned.