These spouses have heard that it will benefit their case if they possibly include certain numbers that either overstate their expenses or understate their income.
But those spouses will be very wrong if they try to fudge the numbers. Don’t do it. Lying of any kind in any court case is dumb, but lying in your divorce case could possibly be one of the dumbest things you could ever do.
Most people feel that they can lie in their case because they will get away with it. They are told by their friends that everyone lies in their case and the judge won’t even find out about it, or even if they do find out about the lie, they won’t care because everybody does it.
There are a variety of other reasons why people lie on their Income and Expense Declaration, including such crazy ideas as believing that the upside of getting a better support order is worth the risk of being caught.
Unfortunately, we have seen many situations where spouses do get away with lying on the Income and Expense Declaration. Most times, nothing does ever happen. But the downside is not worth it.
If your spouse is lying in your case, you should immediately seek the assistance of an Orange County divorce attorney.
What is form FL-150, the Income and Expense Declaration?
Most experienced Orange County divorce lawyers understand that the financial aspects of your case can be some of the most difficult to resolve. When dealing with any financial issue in your case, the Income and Expense Declaration, FL-150, may be the single most significant document for your case.
The Form FL-150 or I&E is the cornerstone for your testimony and proof to the court about all of your income and all of your expenses. It’s a summary of all of the important financial categories for your case and for your life and will serve as the basis for the court to make decisions on financial decisions, such as child support and alimony (spousal support).
Because of your judge’s reliance on the I&E, accurately completing the Form can make a significant difference in your case.
In short, you will personally complete the FL-150. Your lawyer can help, but ultimately there are questions that only you will have knowledge of. The FL-150 contains all of the income and all of the expenses in your life.
Your judge will make their child support and alimony rulings based upon the numbers included on the Form FL-150, subject to challenge by your spouse’s attorney.
Orange County local rules and California Rule of Court 5.427 require that all FL-150s must be “current.” That usually means the I&E needs to be updated so that it is not more than 90 days old. In virtually every situation, both spouses will need to frequently update their I&E if some new financial event occurs in their life. Your lawyer must keep you aware of the need to update an old FL-150.
How to fill out your FL-150
There are many items that must be properly filled out. In order to properly fill out those items, be sure to have a few select documents close by so you can refer to them as you fill out the Income and Expense Declaration. Those documents include:
- Last two months of pay stubs (if you are an employee) and any other sources of income, including rental income;
- Your last tax return;
- If you are self-employed, your Schedule C from your last income tax return;
- Statements from retirement accounts;
- Information regarding the other party’s income, if known; and
- Expense information.
1. Employment information: This information comes directly from your paystub.
2. Age and education: Self explanatory.
3. Tax information: You can fill this section in with information taken directly from your tax return.
4. Other party’s income: Write down the total amount your spouse makes in a month, and explain how you know how much they make.
5. Income: (The first column is for money earned last month. In the second column, add up amounts for the past 12 months then divide by 12 to get the average monthly amount).
a. Salary: This is the total gross amount you make before taxes.
b. Overtime: Any amount you make for doing extra work.
c. Commissions or bonus income: Talk to your lawyer before you fill in this section. Overall, if you received a bonus last year or work on commissions, you need to cover those amounts in this area.
d. Public Assistance: Any government program, state or federal, in which you may receive money, including social security.
e through l. List out any amount you receive as income for these remaining sections.
6. Investment income: Any income from investments, such as dividend or capital gains should be noted in this area. If you have any rental properties, the income you report here should be reduced by expenses, such as property taxes and maintenance.
7. Income from self employment: If you are self employed (own a business), you can find this information on Schedule C of your most recent tax return. Include a “profit and loss statement” for each business or a Schedule C from your tax return.
8. Additional income: Fill out this section if you received additional money in the last year. Note where the money came from and the amount of additional income. For example, if you won the lottery or were left money by a relative you should report it here.
9. Change in income: Check this box if your financial situation has changed a lot during the past 12 months. Make sure you write down the reason why your situation has changed.
10. Deductions: Include in any money deducted from your earnings last month. Fill out all that apply. You can find this information on your paystub Make sure you write an explanation on a separate page if you have a deduction for Question 10(g).
11. Assets: Total all of your your assets for each category. For example, add up all of your bank accounts, stocks and bonds, properties, or any other assets you own. Put in the total value next to each line. As you know, much of this this information can be located by looking at your bank statements.
12. People living with me: This section requires you to give information about all of the people who live with you. Write their names, ages, and how they are related to you (parent, child, other relative, friend). Take note of how much money each person receives each month (before taxes), and check the Yes or No box if this person pays some of the living expenses.
13. Average monthly expenses: (For average monthly expenses, check the first box if you are estimating your expenses or check the second box if you are noting your actual expenses. Check the third box if these are your proposed needs in the future.
a. Mortgage: Check the first box if you rent an apartment or the second box if you own your home. Write down the monthly payment. If you pay a mortgage, fill out questions (1), (2) and (3). Renters should only fill in (3) and (4) if you have those kind of expenses. Question (4) relating to maintenance and repairs may require you to estimate the reasonable amount for repairs and upkeep that you have. Be sure to include all of your expenses, especially those for your gardener, pool service, and housekeeper.
b. Healthcare costs not paid by insurance: Uninsured monthly prescriptions not covered by insurance can be included for this question.
c. Child care: Include after school care, nannies, care in the summer or any other cost associated with watching your child.
d. Groceries and household supplies: Go through your receipts for the last few months to get a better understanding of your costs.
e. Eating out: Again, look at credit card bills or receipts for the last several months to determine your actual costs for eating out.
f. Utilities: Look back at your utility bills for this question.
g. Telephone, cell phone and email: Only include personal telephone expenses.
h. Laundry and cleaning: Go through your last few months of expenses.
i. Clothes: Self explanatory.
j. Education: Self explanatory.
k. Entertainment, gifts and vacation: Self explanatory.
l. Auto expenses and transportation: Self explanatory.
m. Insurance: Self explanatory.
n. Savings and investment: Self explanatory.
o. Charitable contributions: Self explanatory.
p. Other: You can include any other monthly expenses in this section. For example, gym memberships, costs for your family pet or personal care, like haircuts and manicures.
14. Installment Payments: Take all of your credit card statements and any outstanding loans and make note of them in this section.
15. Attorney’s fees: If you have paid money to your attorney, complete this section. In order to have the court issue an order for attorney”s fees, you must complete this section correctly.
16. Number of children: Do you and your spouse have any children that are under 18? Now, estimate the amount of time the children are with you and the amount of time they are with the other parent. You should examine your custody arrangement.
17. Children’s Health Care Expenses: If your employer provides a policy for health insurance for your children, check the box where indicated. If they don’t, check the second box. Add the name and address of your insurance company and the monthly amount you pay for health insurance. Do not include any amount your employer pays.
18. Additional expenses for the children in this case: Add monthly amounts that you pay for you children. Describe any educational or special needs your children may have.
19. Special hardships: Here, you should note any “special hardships” that you any your family may have that might make your daily living difficult.
20. Other information: If you want the court to know some significant information that you believe may impact your case concerning support, write it down where you have been provided space. In brief, fill in any other information you want the court to know about your case.
You do not need to pay a fee when you file the FL-150 with the court. And you should blacken out any social security numbers that may appear on your pay stubs or income tax returns.
Be sure to serve the FL-150 on your spouse and file the Proof of Service with the court.
Common lies made on the FL-150 in support cases
In support hearings, on the Income and Expense Declaration, there are several common misstatements or lies made by spouses who provide money to the supported spouse. Generally, the spouse who is being asked to pay support will try to not report or at least underreport their income on the I&E.
They may leave the income sections blank or just plain lie about their income. In addition, they may not provide the supporting documentation, such as their paystubs or tax returns.
Moreover, the supporting spouse may also make misstatements about their expenses. First, the supporting spouse will show greater expenses than what they actually pay. They will do that in an attempt to show less net disposable income available to pay as support. Second, on the other hand, they may even underreport their expenses in an attempt to show that their spouse is claiming higher expenses than what is actually paid.
Usually, they will under report their expenses to try to make their spouse out to be a liar.
What should I do if my spouse is lying on their FL-150?
So how do you prove to your judge that your spouse is lying on their Income and Expense Declaration? The hard part may not be proving that their lying, but rather getting your judge to care that they are lying.
In order to prove that your spouse has lied on their FL-150, you need to conduct discovery in your case. Just like any other civil case, you are entitled to request documents or answers to specific questions from your spouse. And they will generally have 30 days in which to answer your requests.
First, prepare document requests for copies of specific backup information about their income or their expenses. Ask for all of their financial statements, including their bank statements or brokerage statements. Get their credit card statements and their employer records.
Then, you can send them interrogatories (specific questions) to items on the I&E or questions relating to their discovery responses that you may not understand or if you want to paint them into a corner with their answer.
Finally, you can make them sit down and answer questions under oath before a court reporter. This process is called a deposition and can be the final piece of the puzzle in obtaining proof that your spouse lied on their I&E.
Once you have put together the proof that your spouse has lied, you need to bring that information before the court. Normally, you will have that opportunity to prove that your spouse has lied if you file a Request for Order for child support or spousal support.
Proving that your spouse has lied can be a complicated process. Therefore, we suggest that you consult with an experienced Orange County divorce attorney in order to obtain the best results.