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Affidavit of Financial Information in Arizona Divorce and Child Support
An Affidavit of Financial Information is an important document in Arizona divorce and child support proceedings. Because the financial affidavit is important and several pages, people can often feel overwhelmed when they first sit down to complete it. We have found that people are more comfortable with the document when they understand what it is and how it will be used.
This article breaks down the Affidavit of Financial Information, why it is important, where you can obtain the templates, and some steps to make preparing the Affidavit of Financial Information easier.
Please remember that the Affidavit of Financial Information is unique to each case. If you have questions, you should contact an experienced family law attorney and discuss your specific case.
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What is an Affidavit of Financial Information in Arizona Family Law?
The Affidavit of Financial Information—commonly referred to as AFI for short—is the party’s written statement/oath regarding their employment, education, and finances. The affidavit requires truthfulness. False or misleading answers can have significant legal consequences for the party.
The AFI is required to be filed in cases where child support, spousal maintenance, or attorney fees and costs are an issue in the case. This requirement is identified in Rule 49, A.R.F.L.P. Rule 49 is the rule that outlines the mandatory disclosure requirements in an Arizona family law case.
The AFI may be required in other Arizona Family Law cases, so check the relevant statutes and rules to see if the AFI is required in your case.
Why is an Affidavit of Financial Information Important?
As mentioned above, when child support, spousal maintenance, or attorney fees and costs are an issue in the case, an AFI is required.
Attorneys and the Court can use the information within the AFI to see the educational background of the party, the party’s employment history, past earning record, the party’s current earnings, and the party’s current or estimated expenses.
This information can be important for various factors in the Arizona Child Support Guidelines or the spousal maintenance factors identified in A.R.S. §25-319.
In a divorce or child support case, a party may need more information about employment history, education, or earnings. The party may need to explore additional disclosure/discovery. Still, the AFI is an excellent place to start and a good place to find support for an argument.
Where to Get the Affidavit of Financial Information Template
The Affidavit of Financial Information for Maricopa County Superior Court can be found here. Other county-specific AFI’s can typically be found on the county clerk’s website or in their self-service center at the courthouse.
Breaking Down the Arizona Affidavit of Financial Information
The AFI is 12 pages long and can seem like a blur of blank lines. This feeling of being overwhelmed is often just a symptom of the overall stress of family law litigation. Breaking it down, the AFI is just eight sections of information you know or can typically quickly lookup:
1. General Information
2. Employment Information
3. Your Education/Training
4. Your Gross Monthly Income
5. Self-Employment Income (If Applicable)
6. Schedule of All Monthly Expenses for Children
7. Schedule of All Monthly Expenses
8. Outstanding Debts and Accounts
Do not let the AFI overwhelm you. Overall, carefully read the questions and the bullet points at the beginning of the section. The bullet points at the beginning of the sections answer some common questions: how is the gross monthly income typically calculated, and how do you identify estimated monthly expenses? In other counties, the Court’s approved AFI may differ slightly from Maricopa’s. Still, there is usually an instruction packet that accompanies the approved AFI to help litigants navigate common questions. You can generally obtain the instruction packet from the specific Court’s self-help department.
Read the entire AFI through once and then complete the AFI section by section. You already know a lot of the answers, and carefully reading the questions and bullet points often reduces the stress associated with completing the AFI and ensures the accuracy of information. As discussed below, it may also be helpful to complete the AFI as you are gathering your documents for Disclosure.
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Tips on Where to Find Information
Below are just a few quick ideas on where you can locate some of the information requested in the AFI. This section is most helpful if you have the AFI available to read as you read through these tips.
The answers to these questions come easier for some than others. If you are struggling to recall your employment information, consider pulling up an old resume and see if that has the answers. If you are active on social media platforms like LinkedIn, you may be able to find the information from there.
If you cannot locate your prior physical tax returns, think about how you filed them/who prepared them for you. Is there an electronic copy that would be saved somewhere, or were they sent to you in an email at the time of filing?
Additionally, parties who receive a W2 paycheck can typically find their year-to-date income on their last paycheck.
If it has been a while since you attended school and you are having trouble recalling the information requested here, try and find a past resume or a job application.
Your Gross Monthly Income
Your paystubs are typically the best place to find most of the information requested in this section. For income outside of what is identified in a paystub, think, where is this income documented? Are they deposits in your bank account? Payments through various merchant/peer-to-peer apps? Think of where the funds are transferred and then look at those sources to find the amount.
To locate the answers to these questions, consider reviewing the organizational documents, the operating agreement, last year’s tax returns, or your most recent income/expense statement.
Schedule of All Monthly Expenses for Children
To locate this information, you may need to contact your employer, review bank statements, obtain child care fee documentation, or review Court Orders.
People often obtain health and other medical insurance through their employers. It is not always clear what premiums are for which dependent. You may need to contact your employer to determine how they allocate the insurance premiums. If the costs for insuring the children common to the parties alone are unclear, consider reviewing the current Arizona Child Support Guidelines for guidance.
It is often easiest to determine childcare costs by contacting the provider and obtaining the rate sheet. The rate sheet is also beneficial if you use an asterisk to identify anticipated expenses in this section.
The best place to obtain accurate information related to Court ordered child support or spousal maintenance is the Court Order ordering the obligation. You can access your Maricopa County Superior Court family law cases online here.
Schedule of All Monthly Expenses
Often, your bank statements are the easiest to find accurate information for your monthly expenses. Look at your past few months’ bank statements to see what you regularly spend on food, clothing, and the other items most of us don’t track every month.
If you are researching anticipated expenses in this category, save the information you research. You likely will not remember months after completing the AFI where you got the information.
Outstanding Debts and Accounts
It is often helpful to read through bank statements that you use to pay the monthly obligations to identify the debts. Then, log in to the institution that holds the debts and review their accounts to answer the remaining fields in the table.
It may also be necessary to obtain a credit report to identify debts held in your name.
Of course, every case is unique, and some answers may not be straightforward. If you have questions about how to answer a question on your Affidavit of Financial Information, you should contact an experienced family law attorney.
3 Steps to Complete an Affidavit of Financial Information for Arizona
1. Prepare to Complete the Financial Affidavit
As with anything, preparation makes execution easier. You will know some of the information requested in the AFI off the top of your head. Still, you will have to reference documentation for some of the data. Much of this documentation will also be required to comply with Rule 49 Disclosure.
It is often easiest to complete the AFI as you gather the documentation for your Rule 49 Disclosure. First, read the AFI thoroughly, so you know what documentation you need to be able to complete the AFI. Second, as you gather the documentation for Disclosure, answer the questions in the AFI.
For example, Section 2, Employment Information, asks for the total gross income from the last three years’ tax returns. When compiling the tax returns for Disclosure, complete the requested information in the AFI.
2. Read the Questions Carefully and Answer Accurately
As mentioned above, it is essential to read the questions carefully. The bullet points in the sections often address common questions people have. There are also sections you may not have to complete depending on what is at issue in your case. If you are unsure of how to answer the questions, you should discuss the question with an experienced family law attorney.
Additionally, this is an Affidavit to the Court, so be sure to answer the questions accurately. Inaccurate or misleading information can have significant legal consequences.
3. Review your Answers
As with anything that is filed with the Court, review the answers before submission. Check for accuracy, grammar, and clarity. Again, if you have any questions about how to answer a specific question, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney.