5 Ways Maryland’s Long Form Financial Statement Can Help You

Most people would rather go to the dentist than sit and go over their finances and then also must disclose those numbers to their attorneys and the opposing party.  Not fun.  But most of our family law clients (both in divorce and custody cases) are going to have to fill out Maryland’s Long Form Financial Statement at the commencement of their case (with updates along the course of the litigation). Take your time and check your numbers as you complete the Long Form Financial Statement because you cannot take it back. The accuracy of the numbers on this document will have an impact on your credibility with the judge. It is required by Maryland Rule in the bulk of our cases anyway, but it can also help you in your case in a variety of ways.

  1. Attorneys’ Fees. A party cannot get an award of attorneys’ fees without filing a Long Form Financial Statement. The court has to have it.
  2. Alimony. If you are the party filing the divorce complaint, and you are asking for or expecting to pay alimony, you will file a Long Form Financial Statement (LFFS) DR3 with your complaint. If you are the party responding to a divorce complaint, you file the LFFS along with your response documents.
  3. Settlement. If you are unclear about what your monthly needs are, a Long Form Financial Statement will help you get clear very quickly. And if the form is completed meticulously (going over your monthly expenses, making sure your averages in each category are correct, being careful to show the court what is a precise expense and what you have had to estimate, and the like), it can be persuasive to the other side, too, in demonstrating that you either need assistance in making up a monthly deficit or in showing that you simply do not have any extra to help with the other party’s expenses.
  4. Credibility. There is nothing like a well done financial statement to say to the Court: I have nothing to hide. This means that when you pull out your mortgage statement or your rental agreement, that the monthly amount you entered on the financial statement will match to the penny the mortgage statement. It also means that you do not overstate (or understate) your expenses related to everything from children’s expenses to religious contributions.
  5. Impeachment. Financial statements are often done without enough consideration when litigants are hurried or don’t understand the importance of the statement to the Court. But they are signed by the party completing them and nearly always introduced into evidence. So, they can be good fodder for attacking the credibility of the other side (or you if you are not careful). For instance, if the opposing party states that she’s paying back a loan to a relative for $300/month, but there is no other evidence of that payment (like a canceled check) or if a party states that rent is $2000/month but the rent checks are consistently $1700/month, that can help a Judge (or Magistrate) decide who to believe.

We know that completing the Long Form Financial Statement is not fun, but if it is carefully and thoughtfully prepared, it can be a useful tool in your family law case. So, take heart in that and be thorough and careful as you complete it.

The attorneys at McCabe Russell, PA, have offices in Howard County (just a few minutes south of Columbia) and Montgomery County, Maryland (near the courthouse in Rockville). We have more than twenty-five years of experience assisting in divorce and custody matters. Please contact the firm to make an appointment for a consultation.