The Importance of Accurate Financial Declarations
South Carolina Family Court Rule 20 requires that a current Financial Declaration must be filed whenever the financial condition of a party is relevant or is an issue to be considered by the Court. As you might imagine this covers the overwhelming majority of cases, including divorce, separation, child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, contempt, etc. This document includes detailed information about a wide range of financial issues, including income, expenses, assets, and debts. What happens if a Financial Declaration is wrong due to a mistake or a lie?
Financial Declarations are affidavits, which should highlight why it’s so important that they be filled out properly. Because they are signed under oath, your signature verifies that you are swearing that the information provided is true to the best of your knowledge.
What if you make a simple mistake, such as listing a wrong amount, forgetting to include a bank account, etc.? These types of mistakes can (and do) occur from time to time. If the mistake was unintentional, your attorney should immediately alert the Court and the opposing party to your mistake and file the corrected Financial Declaration.
On the other hand, intentional errors or omissions, unfortunately, occur from time to time, and they can carry the potential for serious punishment if discovered. Remember, you signed the document under oath that the information was accurate to the best of your knowledge. A blatant lie can be deemed as perjury, which is a serious crime and can lead to correspondingly serious punishment.
Punishments widely vary depending on the facts and circumstances that led to the erroneous information being included in the Financial Declaration. On the lighter end, it is possible a judge might simply slap you on the wrist, making note of the error, but otherwise moving on. At the tougher end of the punishment spectrum, it is possible that you could be prosecuted for perjury, which could potentially lead to jail time, especially in serious cases.
Lessons to Learn
There are two important lessons that you should take away from this discussion. First, it is extremely important that you make sure all of the information included in your Financial Declaration is accurate. Many attorneys (including our firm) provide worksheets and other resources to assist their clients in compiling the necessary information to prepare the Financial Declaration.
It is equally important that you verify that all of the information included in the opposing party’s Financial Declaration is accurate. Your attorney should discuss with you the importance of independently verifying the other party’s financial information in certain cases and the steps that can be taken to do so.
Ben Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for a quarter of a century, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. He and his team are well-equipped to handle all family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule an initial consultation.
Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule an initial consultation.
ABOUT J. BENJAMIN STEVENS
Ben.Stevens@offitkurman.com | 864.598.9172
Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. He has held numerous leadership positions in the AAML, and he currently serves as one of its National Vice Presidents. Mr. Stevens has a statewide practice and regularly appears all across South Carolina. His practice is focused on complex divorce and child custody cases.
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