After the initiation of a divorce proceeding, the next stage in any divorce and arguably, the most important, is discovery.
In the context of a divorce, this generally starts with each party exchanging a Sworn Statement of Net Worth or Financial Affidavit. This is the most important discovery tool in the context of a divorce. Statement of Net Worths are mandated upon demand by Domestic Relations Law § 236B. This document, prepared individually by each party, is sworn under oath. It lists each party’s expenses, income, assets and debt. If any separate property claims are to be made, they are stated as such within the document.
Each party’s Statement of Net Worth is exchanged between the parties and their counsel and provides a roadmap as to what constitutes the marital estate. Often, after reviewing a Statement of Net Worth, the other party or their counsel may request statements or other back up documentation to verify the contents of the Statement of Net Worth, or to clarify or understand it better. The Statement of Net Worth is a pathway to further discovery.
As a sworn statement, it is important to be truthful and accurate when completing these documents. Parties should work closely with their attorneys to ensure that the document is prepared correctly before exchanging it with the other side. These documents must also be certified by the completing party’s attorney.
Once completed, the Statement of Net Worth, together with a recent W-2/1099/K1/income tax return and/or paystubs, together with their Retainer Agreement with their divorce attorney, are to be shared with the other party, as well as the court (if applicable).