In most divorce and custody cases, the South Carolina Financial Declaration is required. In all family court cases where “...the financial condition of a party is relevant or is an issue…”, Rule 20 of the South Carolina Rules of the Family Court requires that a Financial Declaration be filed with the court. Nevertheless, no Financial Declaration is necessary for certain cases, such as a simple uncontested divorce with no financial settlement or children’s issues.

In addition, the family court judges are instructed to make a factual finding prior to issuing a ruling that both parties have made full financial disclosure to the other. Therefore, both parties are required to each file a written financial disclosure, which is the SC Financial Declaration, to assist the judges with this finding. This form supplied by the Supreme Court is a sworn statement; thus, a person who makes a false statement on this form is subject to perjury.

When filling out the SC Financial Declaration, many are intimidated after their first glance of the fine, long, and detailed print. However, with focus and a little guidance, an error-free document can easily be achieved.

Therefore, adhering to these following guidelines can help keep you out of needless trouble:

  • Firstly, read the back page before beginning to fill out the form. This back page provides the a very detailed explanation of the required information necessary for each category on the form.

  • The most common areas on the form where people make mistakes is in Food Expenses, Children’s Incidental Expenses, Adult Incidental Expenses, and Entertainment. Because the explanation provided on the last page may not seem to be a logical place to put certain expenses, it is important to also understand these guidelines, so it will not appear misleading later on.

    • Food Expenses: Since Food Expenses, instead of Entertainment, includes “casual eating out,” be sure to correctly itemize this on the Financial Declaration in order to get a truthful portrayal of your financial situation.

    • Children’s Incidental Expenses: This includes payments regarding allowances, babysitters, and summer camps. Many make the mistake of putting the expense of summer camp into Child Support Expenses; however, it is crucial to follow these rules.

    • Adult Incidental Expenses: This seems to be the “catch all” category for a variety of expenses that do not fit anywhere else. For example, getting your nails done, belonging to a gym, buying pet food, getting your pet groomed, etc. are a few out of the many expenses that belong to this category.

    • Entertainment Expenses: Be cautious of this category because no client wants to appear to be living life of debauchery at a time like this. This category does include vacations, which can amortize over twelve months, increasing the cost of this category by a lot.

Ultimately, the South Carolina Financial Declaration is a lengthy and delicate form that needs to be carefully abided by. It is beneficial to comply with these guidelines above and read the fine print in the form carefully in order to avoid something informing against you in the long run.