Skip to main content

Practical Tips for Completing the Massachusetts Family Court Financial Statement

A financial statement is required in every divorce, paternity, and child support action in Massachusetts.   The financial statement is one of the most important papers that you will file with the Court.  A financial statement will be required every time you appear in Court when there is an issue relating to finances, and you must sign your financial statement under the pains and penalties of perjury that the information contained in the financial statement is complete, true, and accurate.

In a divorce case, Massachusetts Supplemental Probate Court Rule 401 provides that, within 45 days after the date of service of the Summons, each party must serve on the other party a complete and accurate financial statement.  Rule 401 also allows the parties to make a request for financial statement as well.

The form of the financial statement which each party must complete is dependent upon his or her income. A party whose income equals or exceeds $75,000.00 must complete the long form financial statement. The long form financial statement should be printed on purple paper (although the Standards for Computer Generated Forms indicate both should be on pink paper, the long form available at the courthouse is on purple paper).  A party whose income is less than $75,000.00 must complete the short form financial statement.  The short form financial statement should be printed on pink paper.  The short form financial statement is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.
Warning: Unless you have Acrobat Standard or Pro you won't be able to save any information you enter on these electronic court forms.  If you enter information and save the document in Acrobat Reader (the free adobe program most people have on their computer), all of the entered information will disappear when you reopen it.  We therefore recommend that you print the document immediately after you complete it, or simply print the blank document and work on it by hand.
Many people find these forms confusing, and the court has provided some basic instructions for both the short form and the long form.  In addition to these instructions, we have found that the following tips have been helpful to our clients:

Documents: When completing the financial statement it will be helpful if you have certain documents available to refer to.  Collecting all of these documents before you begin drafting will make the process easier:

  • most recent (or a representative) paystub;
  • your last year's tax return with accompanying schedules, W2s and 1099s;
  • most recent statements for your bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, credit cards, loan statements, etc.;
  • any appraisals or other valuations for your property; and
  • a budget of your average weekly expenses.

Weekly Expenses:  Everyone has some weekly expenses that do not fit into the listed categories (e.g. cable, internet, netflix, etc.).  Create a realistic budget for what you are spending regularly or your financial statement will not accurately reflect your financial situation and won't be as useful.

Assets:  List anything of value that you may have interest in, even if there isn't a listed category for it (e.g. frequent flyer miles, or digital assets, such as the value of your iTunes library).  In addition, it is advisable to list your marital interest in your spouse's property to ensure that you have reserved your rights to that property.  This can be indicated by one line in the "Other" category: "Equitable Interest in Marital Property of Spouse - Value Unknown".

Trusts:  Any trust interest (as trustee or beneficiary) should be listed with an explanation of the interest.  Trusts are often misunderstood or misinterpreted and if you are not 100% clear on what your interest in a trust may be, you should consult an attorney regarding the terms of the trust.

Schedules:  If you work for yourself, you must additionally complete Schedule A.  If you own any rental property, you must additionally complete Schedule B.  If these schedules don't match your most recent tax return, expect questions as to why.  Judges are mandated reporters to the IRS and DOR, and you may be required to explain why the income and expenses you are reporting to the court doesn't match what you reported (also under oath) to the IRS and DOR.

How accurate do you have to be?  Very Very Very accurate.  Remember, you are signing your Financial Statement under the pains and penalties of perjury that its contents are complete, true, and accurate.  If there are any inaccuracies or untruths, you may be asked about it in Court, which could hurt your credibility and therefore your case.  In addition, any inaccuracies could affect the enforcability or modification of agreements.

Footnotes/Endotes:  Sometimes the form doesn't allow the room for you to completely and accurately describe a specific situation.  In that case, include a footnote or endnote and write an explanation at the end of the document.  This is not a situation where less is more.  Anything that is confusing or incomplete could be considered inaccurate or misleading.

Is a Financial Statement confidential?  Financial Statements are impounded, which means that they are filed separate from your court file, which is public record.  Your Financial Statement is only available to you, your attorney(s), the opposing party, and his or her attorney(s), after showing a proper ID.  We recommend that when you file a Financial Statement, you redact all but the last four digits of your Social Security number and account numbers to ensure further privacy.


  1. what if I didn't print on pink paper?

    1. The court will probably still accept it, but the danger is that it might get mixed in with the rest of the court file and not be impounded. The purpose of the pink paper is to make it easy to spot and keep separate from the public file.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

What is the purpose of the Divorce Nisi waiting period?

In Massachusetts the statutory waiting period after a Judgment of Divorce and before the divorce becomes final (or absolute) is called the Nisi period. After a divorce case settles or goes to trial, a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This waiting period serves the purpose of allowing parties to change their mind before the divorce becomes final. If the Judgment of Divorce Nisi has issued but not become final yet, and you and your spouse decide you don't want to get divorced, then you can file a Motion to Dismiss and the Judgment will be undone. Although many of my clients who are getting divorced think the idea of getting back together with their ex sounds crazy, I have had cases where this happened. In addition to offering a grace period to change your mind, the Nisi period has three other legal effects: 1. The most obvious effect of the waiting period is that you cannot remarry during the Nisi period, be

Does a Criminal Record affect Child Custody?

If one of the parents in a custody case has a criminal record, the types of crimes on their record could have an effect on their chances of obtaining custody. In custody cases the issue is always going to come down to whether or not the best interests of the child might be affected. In the most extreme case, in which one parent has been convicted of first degree murder of the other parent, the law specifically prohibits visitation with the children until they are of a suitable age to assent. Similarly, but to a less serious degree, in making custody and visitation determinations the court will consider crimes that would cause one to question the fitness of a parent. These types of crimes would obviously include any violent crime convictions which could call into question whether the children would be in danger around a parent who has shown themselves to resort to violence when faced with conflict. In addition, drug and alcohol abuse offenses would call into question a parent&#

What happens after my Divorce Agreement is approved by a Judge?

If you filed a Joint Petition for Divorce in Massachusetts then you will participate in an uncontested divorce hearing and the Judge will then issue Findings of Fact the day of the hearing.  A Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue after thirty (30) days, and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This means that if you file a Joint Petition for Divorce you are not legally and officially divorced until 120 days after the divorce hearing date. If you filed a Complaint for Divorce  then your case will end either with a trial (if you don't settle) or an uncontested divorce hearing (if you settle).  If you reach an Agreement, then a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and be effective as of the date of the uncontested divorce hearing, and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This means that if you file a Complaint for Divorce you are not legally and officially divorced until 90 days after the divorce hearing date. Therefore, for 90 - 120 day