One major problem that our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators see during mediations is where one or both parties spend too much focus on what is contained in the Florida Family Law Affidavit that they have prepared, especially when the parties are Pro Se. Pro Se means that you are choosing to represent yourself instead of having a lawyer represent you in your divorce.
The Family Law Financial Affidavit Form 12.902 can be an arduous task to complete for someone for a seasoned Florida Family Law Attorney, but for a Pro Se who has no legal experience it can be very confusing. It is important that these Financial Affidavits are filled out using accurate information and with proper estimates of the values of marital assets and debts.
A Family Law Financial Affidavit consists of the following different sections: income; expenses; assets and liabilities; and contingent assets and liabilities. In preparing for a mediation, our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. review the Petition and Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage that the parties filed along with all other documents in the Court file, especially the Financial Affidavits in order that we understand the full range of possible outcomes of your case.
Florida Statute § 61.075 defines which assets and debts are marital and which need to be equitably divided between the parties, so valuing these assets and liabilities is of the utmost importance. Although our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators can’t advise parties as to whether they have completely and accurately filled out their Financial Affidavits, we can ask the parties how they came up with a specific valuation of an asset or a debt when there is a huge discrepancy between the values in the Financial Affidavits that each filed.
In cases where the parties are W-2 employees, it is very easy to determine the Income section of the Financial Affidavits by reviewing pay stubs and Federal Tax Returns. This determination can be more difficult when one or both parties are self-employed.
The Assets and Liabilities sections are much more difficult to verify because each party has to list all assets and liabilities and provide a value for each item of real and personal property that you list as well as the total amount that is owed on each debt.
Obviously, it is much easier to provide an accurate value of debts mainly due to monthly statements for credit cards, mortgages and loans; and in terms of assets such as parcels of real property, automobiles and jewelry – these are somewhat easy to value.
On the other hand, the value that a party places on items of personal property such as home furnishings, electronics, tools and collectibles are extremely subjective. Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. routinely see parties exaggerate the value of personal property that is the other parties’ possession and under value the personal property in his or her possession. It is also our experience that often one or both parties will leave out specific items of personal property desiring that the omission will go unnoticed.
If you mediate using Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., our mediators will work with both parties to agree on a value for each asset and debt in order that their Mediated Settlement Agreement is fair to both parties.