If you are in any divorce action for child support or alimony, or if you are in any action modifying child support or alimony, or if you are requesting for attorney’s fees, you must complete and file a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit (commonly referred to as a “DRFA”).
A Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit is mandated by the Georgia Superior Court Rule 24.2. Failure to provide the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit may subject you to the penalties of contempt or other sanctions deemed appropriate by the court, and may result in the postponement of the hearing until you provide the financial information.
A DRFA is a sworn statement under oath. This means that you must swear that the information contained in the DRFA is true and accurate. If the information on your DRFA is false or misleading, you may be subject to court ordered punishment for making false statements under oath. It is therefore most important to provide true and accurate information. You will be required to summarize your assets, monthly income and monthly expenses.
Sample blank Domestic Relations Financial Affidavits are provided by the Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Superior Courts. Below are links to several blank DRFAs are listed below:
- Fulton County Georgia DRFA
- DeKalb County Georgia DRFA
- Cobb County Georgia DRFA
- Georgia Legal Aid DRFA
You must file your DRFA with the court and serve it upon the opposing party at least fifteen (15) days before any temporary or final hearing. In an action filed during emergency situations, the fifteen (15) day rule may not be strictly adhered to and filing a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit may be delayed under the Georgia Superior Court Rule 24.2. “Emergency situations” typically refer to the possibility of domestic violence, abuse, or kidnapping.
Filling out a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit is very time consuming and may seem like a waste of time, but it is important to take your time to accurately report your assets, income, and expenses. In a divorce action, the amount of child and spousal support is based on the financial circumstances of the parties, and most Georgia courts look to the financial information provided in the DRFA to determine the proper amount. Thus, the accuracy of your DRFA is critical to the outcome of your divorce actions. If you are completing a DRFA, we recommend you give full attention to each and every question and take time to go over your answers with an attorney. Below are a few tips you can keep in mind when completing your DRFA.
Do Not Leave Blank Spaces on the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit
You can either complete the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit electronically or hand-write the information in. Do not leave any blank spaces on the form. When you are completing all fields in your DRFA, use “n/a” if a field is not applicable.
Fill out your Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit with figures that can be proven
The Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit will require you to list details of your assets, income, expenses and debts. You must limit your response to figures that you can prove by using receipts, bank statements, or other financial documents. Try not to guess or speculate. Save your receipts, saving bank statements, and other financial documents in case the figures are challenged. Some of the items in the “Expenses” section of the DRFA may be difficult to know the average monthly amounts. For example, it may not be easy for you to figure out how much you spend every month on “gifts” to others. In such cases, please consult with your attorney.
Assets include non-marital, separate property
Non-marital property and any income or assets kept in a separate account must be listed on your Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit. Non-martial property is property acquired before the marriage as gift, inheritance or pre-marital ownership. If you have a bank account or safety deposit box that your spouse does not know about, you must also list it on your DRFA.
Health insurance cost for the children must be included separately
The Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit specifically requests the cost of health, dental, and vision insurance for the children. You may not list the full cost of your monthly premium if that includes insurance for yourself. If you pay your monthly premium for both you and your children together, you can ask your office manager or administrator and find out the sole cost of the children’s insurance.
Debts are any other expenses not already mentioned on the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit
The “Debts” section of the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit (“Payments to Creditors” section) asks for all other expenses not mentioned in the “Expenses” section. This include student loans, payments for back taxes, credit card payments, and any other outstanding money that is owed. The “monthly payment” should be the full monthly payment, even if you are not currently making full payments.
Complete your Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit as soon as you can
You need to complete your Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit as soon as possible and provide it to your attorney with two current pay stubs attached. The DRFA must be filed with the Clerk of Court at least fifteen (15) days prior to the temporary hearing or trial. Georgia Superior Court Rule 24.2. Failure to comply with the fifteen (15) day rules, however, does not mean that the court is estopped from admitting a lately filed DRFA as evidence. Hendry v. Hendry, 292 Ga. 1 (2012) (holding that a court may decide to review a lately filed DRFA as evidence even if a party failed to comply with the fifteen-day rule under Georgia Superior Court Rule 24.2). Failure to file a DRFA, on the other hand, may result in the penalties of contempt, the postponement of the hearing or trial, and other sanctions deemed appropriate by the court. Rule 24.2. It is, therefore, most important to complete and file your DRFA.
Make sure your Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit is notarized
You must sign the completed DRFA in the presence of a notary. This is because the DRFA by definition is an affidavit, and affidavits have to be notarized to be admissible in court. The notary will first confirm your identity by checking your identification. Then you may sign the DRFA in front of the notary.
Revise your Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit anytime your financial circumstances changes
You can update your Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit when there is a change in circumstances. If you get a raise or lose a job, you need to revise your DRFA accordingly. However, revising your DRFA too many times may question the validity or credibility of your DRFA.
Be honest on the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit
The most important thing to remember when filing out your DRFA is to be honest. You may want to lower your income or increase your monthly expenses on your DRFA. However, doing so will only allow the opposing party’s attorney to attack your credibility during cross-examination. Because you swear under oath that when you submit your DRFA, you may also be subject to court ordered punishment for making false statements under oath. Refer to our other article titled “Why the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit is Important” for further reasons why you have to honestly and accurately complete the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit.
If you are facing divorce in Georgia and have questions or need assistance, call us at 770-609-1247 to schedule a meeting with one of our experienced divorce and family law attorneys.