By David P. Badanes, Esq. and Max Glick
In New York State, if your divorce is contested, you will have to fill out the “Statement of Net Worth” (sometimes called the “Net Worth Statement”). The Statement of Net Worth (hereinafter “SNW”) is a very comprehensive form where you will list: (i) all your assets; (ii) all your liabilities (debts); (iii) your income; (iv) your monthly expenses; (v) your gross income; (vi) applicable, business interests information; (vii) legal and expert fees paid; and (viii) some basic family information). When filing the SNW, you have to attach your retainer agreement with your attorney, your most recent W-2 (or 1099s) and your most recent income tax returns. You can think of a SNW as doing a “Budget on Steroids”.
When you file your SNW, you are signing it under the penalty of perjury. Furthermore, the SNW can be – and will be – used by your adversary to determine if you are telling the truth about your income, expenses and all the other information you state in your SNW. This is why it is extremely important to make sure that your SNW is accurate, error-free and truthful.
Here are a few tips on how to complete your SNW:
- If something does not apply to you, do not leave the field blank, instead write “Not Applicable”. For instance, if you do not own any stock, you would write “Not Applicable” in the appropriate space.
- If you do not know the value of an item, do not guess. Instead, you can write “To be determined” or “Do not know”. For example, if you own some jewelry and do not know its value (if sold, not what you bought it for), you can truthfully write: “Do not know”.
- When completing expenses, it is usually best to compute all of your expenses on a monthly basis. You also do not have to include “cents”, instead you can simply “round up” or “round down”. For example, if on a yearly basis you spend $1,600.00 for heating expenses, on a monthly basis that would be $133.33. However, in the SNW, it would be acceptable to write “$133.00 per month”.
- When filling out the form, you are taking a snapshot in time. All the information should be “as of” the date you are completing the form.
- If you do not know your expenses, you can consult your bank statements or call the vendor/provider to determine how much you pay. For example, you can call your mortgage statement, the utility company or your credit card company to obtain the information you need. You can also go on-line to obtain this information.
- For your expenses: if your spouse pays a particular expense, you should still list the amount of the expense and then state who is paying that expense. For example: “Mortgage: $2,500.00, currently paid by husband.”
- Indeed, you can put as many “notes” as you want in the form.
- Most people have a better idea of their income. However, you still should consult your most recent W-2 forms and/or pay stubs to make sure you are listing your correct income.
- When completing the asset section, make sure you list all your assets. If you forget to list an asset, then it might not be considered in your divorce.
- Liabilities (debts): Make sure you look at your bank statements and credit card statements. Many people have automatic debits, which they forget to put down on their SNW.
- When listing a credit card or loan, be specific. For example, write: “Chase Visa Card ending in 1234”.
- The SNW is a long form. It might be a good idea to complete it in two or more settings.
- Do your homework and be careful in completing the form.
- After you complete the form, double-check it.
If after you file your SNW, you discover that you made a mistake or an error, you can file an Amended or Second SNW. Similarly, if there is a significant change in your finances, you can also file a Second SNW. Finally, if your case goes to trial, the Court may require you to file an updated SNW.
David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. have helped numerous clients in completing their SNW. If you are thinking of getting divorced or you were served with divorce papers and need an experienced divorce attorney on Long Island, then call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office.
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