Completing California Divorce Form FL-150 accurately is one of the most important steps in a California divorce. This financial disclosure form allows each spouse to provide a detailed picture of their income, expenses, assets, and debts.
The information in the FL-150 is essential for determining fair child support and spousal support amounts. Failure to fully disclose finances can lead to errors in support orders and property division.
This comprehensive guide will walk through how to correctly fill out all sections of Form FL-150. We’ll cover key tips for reporting income, expenses, assets, debts, and documentation. You’ll also see examples of common mistakes and find answers to frequently asked questions.
What is Form FL-150 and When Do You Need to File It?
The Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150) is the key form used in all California divorce proceedings to disclose financial information.
Both spouses are required to complete and file their own FL-150. It must be filed within 60 days of the initial divorce petition being served.
Filing the FL-150 is mandatory anytime child support, spousal support, or property division needs to be determined. Specific situations requiring an FL-150 include:
- At the very start of a divorce case
- When seeking to modify existing child or spousal support orders
- During paternity cases to establish child support
- If one spouse requests spousal support from the other
For example, Jennifer and Mark are getting divorced after 7 years of marriage. They have a 5-year-old daughter together. Both Jennifer and Mark will need to file an FL-150 at the start of proceedings to determine child support and possibly spousal support.
Failure to file the form or omitting required financial details can lead to court penalties, delayed support orders, or findings of contempt.
Income and Expense Declaration
The bulk of Form FL-150 covers income and expense details for both spouses. Thoroughly listing all sources of income and monthly expenses is essential.
Use item 5 on the FL-150 to report all taxable income received. Be sure to disclose:
- Employment wages – attach pay stubs as proof
- Self-employment income
- Investment earnings like dividends and interest
- Spousal or child support received
- Disability, unemployment, and other government benefits
- Any other taxable income from all sources
For example, Julie’s FL-150 income declaration should include her $4,000 monthly salary with a pay stub attached, $500 monthly child support received from her ex-husband, and $250 interest earned on savings.
Related Terms: temporary spousal support, tax information, other party’s income, tax return
Item 6 is where you list average monthly expenses. Be comprehensive and back up amounts with documentation:
- Housing – mortgage/rent, property taxes, insurance
- Utilities like gas, electricity, water, cell phone
- Food and household supplies
- Transportation – auto payments, insurance, gas
- Medical costs including insurance
- Childcare and education expenses
- Clothing, personal care, entertainment
- Credit cards, loans, and other debt payments
- Attorney fees for the divorce
For instance, Brad’s FL-150 shows $1,200 for a mortgage, $500 for groceries and supplies, $300 for the auto loan, $75 for cable/internet, etc. He includes receipts and statements verifying each expense.
When declaring expenses on the FL-150, be sure to attach documentation like bills, bank statements, and credit card statements to justify the amounts listed. Courts want to see proof.
Itemizing and proving expenses is key, as this information determines how much support a spouse may require. Higher expenses generally mean higher spousal support awards.
Thorough expense documentation also prevents the other spouse from claiming you spend less than you actually do.
The income and expense details disclosed on the FL-150 are used to calculate appropriate child support. Items like tax returns, pay stubs, and proof of expenses paint a complete financial picture.
Higher incomes typically result in higher child support obligations. So fully documenting both spouses’ incomes leads to fair child support orders.
For example, James makes $6,000 per month. His ex-wife Sue earns $3,500 monthly. Their child support calculation will be based on their incomes as shown on each FL-150.
Child-related expenses should also be detailed on your FL-150 if seeking child support. Work-related childcare, health insurance, school costs, etc. may adjust child support amounts.
Related Terms: Family law lawyer,
Average Monthly Expenses
In addition to income, thoroughly detailing your average monthly expenses on the FL-150 provides insight into your cost of living. This allows the court to determine appropriate spousal support amounts.
The higher your proven monthly expenses, the more spousal support you may receive if you have a lower-earning spouse.
For instance, Anne’s FL-150 shows $5,000 in monthly expenses. Her ex-husband Ned earns $9,000 monthly. Anne is likely to get higher spousal support based on the disparity between her expenses and income.
Don’t inflate expenses, but be sure to include documentation for your average costs. This evidence can significantly impact spousal support orders.
Related Terms: installment payments, household expenses, investment income, party’s income, expense declaration form
Assets and Debts on the FL-150
In addition to income and expenses, Form FL-150 also requires disclosure of all assets and debts.
Use item 7 to report assets like:
- Real estate – include date purchased, amount owed, current value
- Bank accounts – list current balances of checking, savings, etc.
- Investments – stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, with current value
- Personal property – vehicles, jewelry, collectibles, etc.
- Business interests – sole proprietorships, partnerships, etc.
For example, Gary’s FL-150 lists his California home purchased in 2010 for $250,000, now worth $325,000 with a $150,000 mortgage balance. He attaches a recent statement showing $5,000 in his checking account and $50,000 in stocks.
Attach documents like deeds, bank statements, and
investment reports to support asset values. Attempting to conceal assets may lead to court penalties.
In item 8, list all debts owed, including:
- Mortgages, home equity loans
- Credit card balances
- Auto, student, personal loans
- Medical bills
- Business debt
- Unpaid taxes
For each debt, provide the original amount, current balance owed, and minimum monthly payment. Include proof like credit card statements.
For example, Nancy’s FL-150 lists $8,000 still owed on her credit card, with a $200 minimum monthly payment. She includes a current statement verifying this balance.
Debts owed will be deducted from assets, giving a clear total marital estate value. This affects property division in the divorce.
How FL-150 Financial Disclosures Are Used
So how exactly does the court use the FL-150 in making support and property decisions?
- Income establishes each spouse’s ability to pay support
- Expenses show financial needs and standard of living
- Assets and debts determine total marital estate value
- Disparity in incomes and expenses affects support amounts
- Documentation provides proof if modifications are requested
Essentially, the FL-150 allows judges to “show their math” in ordering fair support and property division. Complete FL-150 financial disclosure minimizes errors or inequities.
For example, if Susan earns $2,000 monthly but has $3,000 in expenses, while her ex-husband Bill earns $5,000 monthly, this income and expense discrepancy will enable Susan to seek higher spousal support.
Common FL-150 Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
When completing your FL-150, it’s important to avoid some frequent errors filers make:
- Forgetting to disclose all sources of income
- Failing to provide documentation like pay stubs, tax returns
- Not reporting or incorrectly reporting self-employment income
- Neglecting documentation to prove expenses
- Inflating or deflating expenses
- Leaving out recurring monthly costs like debt payments
- Concealing assets or undervaluing them
- Failing to disclose debts owed and minimum payments
- Not attaching statements to prove balances and values
- Missing the 60-day deadline to file FL-150
- Omitting required attachments like pay stubs, tax returns, statements
- Incomplete sections or blank required items in the form
Avoid penalties and ensure proper support amounts by being thorough, truthful, and timely in completing your FL-150 financial disclosures.
FL-150 Questions and Answers
Do I need to list all my expenses? Yes, you must list your average monthly costs for things like rent, food, gas, insurance, and other bills. Show proof like receipts.
What if I’m not sure about amounts for assets or debts?
Make your best guess and show documents to support the amounts. Giving wrong amounts on purpose can lead to penalties.
What if my income changes a lot? For income that varies, like self-employment, calculate the average monthly amount using tax returns and other paperwork from the past year.
What if I can’t meet the 60-day deadline? Ask the court for more time before the deadline is up. But extra time is not automatically given. Filing on time is important.
What if I make a mistake on my FL-150 form? Small errors can be fixed by amending the form before the due date. But big mistakes or missing info could lead to court penalties.
While drafting the FL-150 involves effort, proper financial disclosure is crucial for fair divorce outcomes. Use this guide to understand all required FL-150 information. Seek examples of common errors to avoid. And ensure you provide accurate, well-documented details before the 60-day deadline.
Thorough financial disclosure in your FL-150 allows the court to order appropriate support amounts and equitably divide property based on facts rather than guesswork. Take the time to fully complete this critical document every time.
Related Terms: true default divorce case, minor children, attorneys fees