Income and Expense Declaration

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 completed accurately.