Step 11 – Assets And Debts
Domestic Relations Affidavits and Child Support Worksheets
Kansas Supreme Court Rule 139 mandates that each spouse shall prepare a Domestic Relations Affidavit (“DRA”). The rule also requires that each side exchange these affidavits before trial. When child support is at issue, the rule also requires each side to complete and exchange a proposed Child Support Worksheet (CSW). These tools are exchanged to show each side how the other is arriving at its proposed property division and/or support obligations.
Domestic Relations Affidavit
A domestic relations affidavit is a sworn statement of income, assets, and debts made by each spouse. The form must be notarized and must include all the relevant required disclosures. The first portion of the document will cover very basic information, such as each spouse’s basic information (name, date of birth, address, etc.) and the basic information for the children of the marriage. Each spouse must further disclose whether they have had a prior marriage, or marriages, and if so, the number. The form must also include a disclosure of any support obligations stemming from those prior marriages, if applicable, whether the support is received, or paid. The form then moves on to other matters. assets and debts.
After providing the above information in their DRA, each party must also disclose their respective income. A court approved DRA will break down how income information is to be reported. This includes reporting gross income, federal withholdings, exemptions claimed, and state withholdings, among others. Self-employed spouses must also state precise information about the earnings and deductions of their business. Each spouse traditionally will only provide their own respective income information; however, if possible, a party can also state the other spouses income information as well. Such information may not be fully known, but it is important for each side to attempt to arrive at figures that are as close to accurate as possible, when possible. Additionally, any support received from others by either spouse—whether considered income for tax purposes or not—must also be accounted for in the affidavit.
After disclosing income information, the DRA moves on to requiring each party to disclose their known assets. These assets will include amounts held in bank accounts, cash on hand, and monies held in retirement accounts or other long-term savings type accounts. When multiple accounts are held, each account has to be disclosed, including the amount held, and the ownership (e.g., “Joint,” “Husband,” or “Wife”). Naturally, disagreement arise somewhat frequently on these points, whether the disagreement be about the amount held in the account, or who owns the account, and whether it’s a joint or individual account. Fortunately, in the end, the Court does not place a high degree of importance on the name on the account, but more focuses on the time frame in which the money in the account was earned.
Outside of what some may refer to as more traditional “liquid” assets, each spouse must also account for real property owned (e.g., real estate), in addition to disclosing other assets like automobiles. The ownership of the property—whether held by one spouse exclusively or jointly by both—along with the value of the property must also be included. Finally, the spouse will be asked to identify separate, individual personal property. This is the property that a party is alleging was acquired before marriage, after separation, or directly by one spouse or the other as a gift or by way of inheritance. While this property is generally not subject to division in a divorce, the court can consider it in determining how to divide marital property and order spousal maintenance (e.g., “alimony”).
The final major component of any traditional long-form DRA is debts. Debts belonging to one spouse individually, or the couple jointly, must be disclosed. The debt should include the creditor owed, when the debt was incurred, the balance remaining, and the allocation of responsibility between the spouses (e.g., Joint or Individual). Any security interests attached to property must also be noted, such as a mortgage for a home or a loan for a car. The existing debts of each spouse, even if incurred prior to marriage, must be included. Although premarital debt, if still existing at the time of divorce, will generally be set back over to the party whom originally held the debt, the court will nevertheless consider all debts in determining overall property distribution and support obligations. Thus, it is essential to account for all existing debts—including those belonging solely to the other spouse.
In addition to current debts, living expenses must also be outlined. These expenses include common expenses of both spouses, including the costs of child care. These expenses include rent, food, and medical costs. Personal property tax is also accounted for, along with maintenance and repair of vehicles. Insurance costs and utilities are also accounted for. Some less-expected expenses are also included. These include cosmetic expenses, such as haircuts and beauty treatments. Non-essential utilities such as mobile phone bills, cable, and newspaper subscriptions are represented.
Child Support Worksheet
When child support is at issue, each side must also submit a proposed Child Support Worksheet (CSW) that states what each party believes the child support obligation in the case needs to be.
The CSW is in essence a formula that uses each spouse’s income, relevant expenses, and other support obligations to arrive at a presumed child support amount owed or due. The basic information needed from each spouse is the gross income of each parent, any other court-ordered child support obligations of either parent—whether for the spouse or the children; received or paid—and relevant monthly expenses such as insurance premiums for any children and any corresponding work-related day care cost. The worksheet will also list the number of children, as well as their respective age. As both of these also naturally impact support and the overall formula utilized. This is the essential information that is required in any child support worksheet.
That said, other special factors may also alter a parent’s child support obligation, and can be listed or requested on a parent’s proposed CSW. These special factors can include long-distance parenting costs, which are the cost when the non-custodial parents lives a significant distance from the children and must incur additional expenses to receive parenting time. Overall parenting time, as well largely uneven parenting time can also affect the amount each spouse owes. The financial condition of each spouse is also an appropriate consideration, particularly when there is a gross disparity in income levels of each spouse. Finally, income tax considerations are also accounted for in almost all cases when factoring a final child support order.
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