The Importance of the Statement of Net Worth In Matrimonial Cases

One of the most important documents in nearly every divorce or 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.