In California, it is required that each party prepare, file, and serve
an Income and Expense Declaration whenever they are seeking orders for
support or attorney's fees. Oftentimes, the party preparing this document
creates is quickly and doesn't put a lot of thought into what figures
are used. I cannot stress how important this document is and that attention
to detail is of the utmost importance.
As an attorney, I am as interested in the party's monthly expenses
as I am in reported income. For one, I can quickly determine if a party
has been lying about their income by reviewing their pay stubs, their
tax return, and other documents they are required to provide as part of
their Income and Expense Declaration. What can show an additional source
of income is their monthly expenditures and, more specifically, who pays them.
In a recent case, the father reported that he was unemployed and had no
income. On his expense declaration, however, he reported that he paid
$3,100 in monthly expenses, including over $900 per month for his truck
and an additional $150 per month for a motorcycle. All of these expenses
were paid by his mother, who had supported him for years. Because of careful
attention to this detail, the court was able to impute not only minimum
wage at 32 hours per week for this person, but they also imputed $1,000
per month as non-taxable income for this reoccurring monthly gift. The
end result was that the amount of support tripled for my client.
While the Income and Expense Declaration may be a short document, it is
of great importance and attention should be paid to ensuring that it is