How much trouble can I get into for lying on a financial affidavit?
August 16, 2006 6:55 AM   Subscribe

How much trouble can I get into for lying on a financial affidavit? It's for divorce court - and it's not what you think!

I have to submit a financial affidavit tomarrow for my divorce hearing...I only just now realized I was required to bring one. I found the form online and because of my horrendous financial situation, when I fill it out it shows (rightly so!) that I spend over a $100 more a week than I make (I plan to take out a loan to fix that problem because it's primarily car payments that are so painful).

I don't want the judge to think I'm a bad person and I *really* don't want my soon to be ex-husband to see this statement. I'm not asking for alimony or anything - I even signed the house over to him. I just want this to be done and over with, without my ex knowing all kinds of details about my finances. It's really none of his business anymore. I would like to claim that I have less debt than I really do and that my electricity bill, etc is less than it truly is.

Would it make me a horrible person to lie? Or should I just deal with the friggin crap I'll get for being so in debt?
posted by fr0zen to Law & Government (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Tell the truth. I am pretty sure that your spouse will have access to the financial statement, but the judge will be more than happy to have a quick and easy divorce, so it should go by fast.

But, seriously, you have to tell the truth. Otherwise it could become very ugly.
posted by MrZero at 7:00 AM on August 16, 2006

Oh, and the judge will not think that you are a bad person. Trust me, family court judges have seen much, much worse. You spend more than you make? That's nothing compared to child abuse/neglect, spousal abuse, etc.
posted by MrZero at 7:01 AM on August 16, 2006

You shouldn't be worried about whether the judge will think you are a bad person; you should be worried about whether he will think you're a perjurer. A financial affidavit is made under oath - lying on it is illegal. Tell the truth.
posted by amro at 7:04 AM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Do not lie. It is a crime. You're a bad person if you do not comply fully with a court order.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:07 AM on August 16, 2006

amro is right. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by lying. Tell the truth.
posted by clarkstonian at 7:08 AM on August 16, 2006

Being a horrible person really doesn't figure into this at all. Being honest about your finances will help solve the problem more quickly -- getting through the divorce proceedings and out of your ex's life. In a worst-case scenario, by lying on your financial disclosure statement you might actually PROLONG things because if it came to light then it would all have to be re-evaluated, bringing your deception into even starker relief. Just take a deep breath, fill it out and start counting the hours until this is all over with. Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 7:13 AM on August 16, 2006

Divorce when no children are involved is supposed to sever all ties between the parties. Done right, it ,means you'll have no contact with your ex, ever again. Why should you care whether he knows about your past spending habits? From what you've written, those habits will have zero impact on the divorce settlement. After that, his thoughts on them should be completely irrelevant to you.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:14 AM on August 16, 2006

It would be perjury, which of course is a criminal offense. Don't go there.
posted by caddis at 7:51 AM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Do Not Lie.

Also, there is probably a place on the financial form for you to include debt. If you do not pay off your credit card balance every month, the amount that sits on the account from month-to-month can/should be listed as debt. This will clue the judge in as to how you are spending outside your means. If you have no debt and have just been spending within your means as a married couple, but not within your means as an individual, then that's ok too - the judge will be used to that.

If this is really making you nervous, then you should talk to a lawyer about it. It sounds like you're trying to do this all without lawyers, but it might be worth paying for an hour of a lawyer's time to give you peace of mind.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 7:52 AM on August 16, 2006

Thank you all for your advice. I will not lie. I can't afford a lawyer and without kids, I think I can do it. Tomarrow should be the end of it. I'll fill out the affidavit today at lunch and get it notarized and be done with it. My ex isn't required by law to show up, so maybe he won't. I'm just gonna stop worrying about it at this point...You guys just make sense :)
posted by fr0zen at 7:57 AM on August 16, 2006

As a slightly-off-topic followup, fr0zen, I'll say that it's likely that he won't show up. When I got divorced, even though there was a child involved, my presence wasn't required at the hearing, though I did go, just, well, because it seemed like I should. I believe that, out of the 10 or so cases that were heard before mine, that mine was the only one where both parties attended. Of course, I don't know anything about your case, your (soon-to-be-former) spouse, or much of anything, really, so YMMV. Good luck!
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:37 AM on August 16, 2006

one more vote for Do. Not. Lie. Credibility is the best asset one can in court.

Before you finalize anything, I would suggest that you reconsider contacting a lawyer - -even to determine on a preliminary basis what your rights are. You indicated that "I'm not asking for alimony or anything - I even signed the house over to him. I just want this to be done and over with".

In your efforts for quick closure, you could be foregoing what you are entitled to (i.e. a cash equalization payment and/or ongoing support) without the ability to remedy this later. At a mininum, it sounds like you could use some extra money for the short term.

Good luck.
posted by greedo at 9:43 AM on August 16, 2006

everybody spends more than they earn. this is america. being in debt makes you a good person. you a contributing of society, the judge has no reason to dispose you this position.
posted by qbxk at 11:01 AM on August 16, 2006

I just want this to be done and over with, without my ex knowing all kinds of details about my finances. It's really none of his business anymore.

The thing is, if he finds out then believe me he will be getting into a who lot more of your business. When my ex tried to cover up purchases during our divorce the heat was magnified on her. She ended up having to submit to a much more probing discovery than initially requested. Of course, this was much her own doing as she was trying to pull the wool over the eyes of her lawyer, my lawyer, her family, our son and the judge.

Until you are divorced, your finances are his business and in the eyes of the court not following the rules is far worse than being financially irresponsible.

Also, free advice: cash.
posted by DragonBoy at 11:20 AM on August 16, 2006

free adavice: cash? i'm not sure how thats going to help fr0zen. my advice is to relax, and not worry about it. theres not much you can do to change whats going to happen, and worrying isnt going to solve your problems. Be honest and dont worry
posted by xteraco at 11:34 AM on August 16, 2006

Thank you all again for all your advice. It wasn't bad at all, although the courthouse was quite unorganized (wrong judge/courtroom listed on my notice). The ex didn't show up and the judge was really nice. All I have left to do is order the official piece of paper that says it's all finished. :)
posted by fr0zen at 7:32 AM on August 18, 2006

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