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Posted on September 4, 2018 in Family Law

Whenever the Court makes any type of order, regardless of the type of case, the Court must rely on admissible evidence. In Family Law cases, especially when dealing with child or spousal support, this evidence is often contained in the Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150.)

The Income and Expense Declaration is a mandatory form, which means the Judicial Council of California requires the form’s use. This form must be used by all parties and accepted by all California courts.

The Income and Expense Declaration is one of the most important forms in nearly every Family Law case. When completed correctly, it lets the Court know what each person’s income is, what their expenses are, and can give the Court a relatively accurate reflection of the current financial situation. The Court requires this information to make accurate support and other financial orders, such as awarding attorney’s fees.

California Rule of Court Rule 5.260 goes into more detail. For the Court to rely on an Income and Expense Declaration, it must be complete and current. As per Rule 5.260(a)(3): “’Current’ means the form has been completed within the past three months providing no facts have changed. The form must be sufficiently completed to allow the court to make an order.” Nearly every item of information sought by the Income and Expense Declaration can have an impact on the Court’s order, so accuracy is paramount.

A common theme in support hearings is the financial “need” of the party seeking support and the “ability to pay” of the other party. The Court will rely on the Income and Expense Declaration, and perhaps some testimony, to help it make these determinations. Providing the Court a complete and current Income and Expense Declaration will help the Court make accurate orders, which helps both parties. When the Court receives an incomplete or “stale” (e.g. over three months old) Income and Expense Declaration, it forces the Court either make an inaccurate order, or continue the hearing to allow the parties to update their financial information. This can require additional hearings, more time, expense, and stress.

There are many pitfalls to accurately completing an Income and Expense Declaration, and many of these pitfalls can directly affect the outcome of your hearing. If you have questions about the Income and Expense Declaration in your San Diego Family Law case, contact the Scott Family Law by calling (858) 974-4900. Scott Family Law is a Certified Family Law Specialist with more than 35 years of experience.