The New Year is upon us and in the experience of our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., many couples wait until after the holidays to separate and/or file a Florida Petition for Dissolution of Marriage – especially when they have young children. Quite often, couples in this position want to have an amicable resolution to their marriage but they also want to make certain that their division of marital assets and liabilities is fair; as well as that they have time-sharing schedules which optimizes their respective access to their children.
At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., we regularly deal with parties who are not represented by counsel. In those cases, it is very important that each spouse completely fill out a Parenting Plan that delineates their child related desires and/or expectations as well as a Florida Family Law Affidavit.
While the Parenting Plan is straight forward and can easily be filed out, the Family Law Financial Affidavit can be very confusing and an arduous task to complete for someone without any legal experience, especially when trying to represent themselves.
In order that our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators are able to assist the parties to mediate to an equitable division of assets and liabilities, it is important to have each party fully place a value on all of the marital assets and debts that are at issue in their dissolution of marriage case; and that is where the Florida Family Law Affidavit Form 12.902 comes into play.
The Family Law Financial Affidavit consists of different sections, including: income; expenses; assets and liabilities; and contingent assets and liabilities. The income and expense section is used to determine whether a party has a need for spousal support and whether the other party has the ability to pay support. This section is also used to calculate child support.
The Assets and Liabilities sections needs to list all assets and liabilities, as well as value each item of real and personal property and the total amount that is owed on each debt.
With respect to real property, automobiles and jewelry these items can be easy to value due to websites such as Zillow, Kelley Blue Book and other internet sites. On the other hand, it is more difficult to value personal property such as home furnishings, electronics, and tools – since these items are more than likely only worth a small percentage of their purchase price today. Just try to imagine what these items would sell for at a garage sale. Obviously, since monthly statements for credit cards, mortgages and loans can easily be accessed – debts are easier to value.
One of the assets that many self-represented spouses forget about are employment and retirement benefits and as with debt, statements make these accounts somewhat easy to value. Finally, Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit Form 12.902 defines contingent assets and liabilities to include “potential, accrued vacation or sick leave, bonus, inheritance” and “possible lawsuits, future unpaid taxes, contingent tax liabilities, debts assumed by another.” Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. has found that very seldom do self-represented parties have contingent assets and liabilities, but to fully mediate all issues this category has to be reviewed.
When self-represented parties appear for mediation with a fully completed Parenting Plan and Financial Affidavit, Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. is able to assist you in resolving all of your issues.