One of the most common frustrations for clients early on in the divorce process is the completion of the Financial Information Statement better known as the “FIS”. This is a document that gives the judge and both sides a synopsis of your monthly expenses. It aids the court in determining child support, spousal support, and sets the tone for how the expenses should be divided at the onset of the divorce proceeding. The primary components are monthly gross income, deductions, net income, mortgage amount, rent, home owners insurance, car insurance, utilities such as gas, electric, water and cable costs, food expenses, clothing expenses, and credit card debt to name a few items.
I always ask clients to attach supporting documents such as receipts, bank statements, a mortgage statement, pay stubs, and a tax return. The FIS is probably one of the most important documents early on in a divorce case. It is admissible at the temporary orders hearing which is typically the first time a party goes to court and gives the judge a snapshot of each parties’ financial well-being. If a party cannot meet his or her monthly needs, it is clear on the FIS; If a party earns a significant income that will assist the judge in determining if the other spouse is entitled to spousal support while the divorce is pending.
Many times in court the opposing counsel will arrive at the temporary orders hearing without having prepared the FIS in advance with the client. It is critical for the client to take the time to prepare the FIS and make available supporting documentation in order for the judge to make proper financial determinations at the hearing. The form is downloadable as a pdf and can be completed fairly quickly. Completion of the FIS early on in the divorce process will save you money, will help contain your costs, and will provide a roadmap for the judge in your case.