Show Me the Money: The New Statewide Comprehensive Financial Disclosure Form
Domestic Relations cases, whether they involve paternity, child custody, dissolution of marriage (or civil union), or legal separation, often revolve around one important issue – the money. Some counties have a local rule covering comprehensive financial statements. One rather large county in northeastern Illinois has a Rule 13.3.3. Disclosure Statement. Some counties have an affidavit of income and expenses. And of course, some counties have no form. So, what is a judge to do? That story begins about four years ago, when Judge Linda Davenport, an associate judge for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit and member of the Illinois State Bar Association Family Law Section Council, had an idea.
She pushed for a uniform disclosure form that was both comprehensive and practical, that provides a map of disputed issues, and that succinctly covers the income and expenses claimed by a party. The Family Law Section Council tasked her with forming a subcommittee and drafting the new uniform form. She teamed up with DuPage attorney Brigid Duffield and began working. After revisions and approvals within the ISBA, the form was presented to the Rules Committee of the Illinois Supreme Court, where it passed. It now is before the Chief Judges of the twenty-three circuit courts in Illinois before it is approved as the official statewide financial disclosure form. The form itself has been adopted for use by the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit. The new form requires a few modifications to local rules, since the section numbers have changed, and with the new civil union law passing into law, those changes must be made too. However, the form is now available on the online forms sections of the website for the Clerk of the Circuit Court for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit.
The first portion of the new form has some very familiar sections, those being the general information section, the statement of health insurance coverage, the assets section, the debts section, the physical and mental status section, and the asset transfer and non-marital property sections. There are some changes to the debts section, in that now there is a chance to fill out the amount of attorneys’ fees paid and whether there has been a bankruptcy filing. There are two new sections – one for making specific requests for items of personal property and the other for noting possible areas of disagreement or dispute for purposes of case planning. The party will sign this first portion for certification of both production of documents and for truthfulness of the contents.
The second portion of the new form is the affidavit of income and expenses. This portion matches what was seen in prior comprehensive financial statements. Now it is in one complete area and can be detached for use in temporary support hearings, and in hearings where the entire marital estate is not the key issue. The explanation of the expenses is broken down in to similar expenditures and modernized to account for advances in technology and for business expenses. Again, the party will sign this second portion for certification of both production of documents and for truthfulness of the contents.
So, with the goal of ensuring that forms are not only easy to use for the person completing the form, but also easy to use for the Court when conducting hearings, the change has been made. Equally important is that uniformity across the state means that attorneys have a simplified process and form to have their clients complete instead of guessing which form goes with which county and when.