In any Georgia divorce, one of the first documents you will be required to fill out is a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit (“DRFA”). A DRFA is a form that must be filled out under oath and includes details of a divorcing party’s income, expenses, assets and debts. In general, it provides a snapshot of a party’s financial situation and, as such, it is relied upon by all parties, as well as the Judge, in determining the proper amount of child support, alimony, and equitable division. For this reason, it is extremely important that you fill out the DRFA carefully and accurately, and make sure you have documents to back up any amounts listed on the form. If you are not honest and/or you make any accidental omissions, any divorce award based upon that DRFA could be in jeopardy.
Former Apple CEO, John Sculley, is currently involved in a lawsuit over this issue with his ex-wife, Carol. Former Apple CEO being sued by ex for ‘hiding millions’ in divorce, by Emily Smith, pagesix.com, January 25, 2014. The parties settled their divorce in 2011, but Carol filed suit against John in 2013 claiming that, in their divorce action, he “submitted a false financial affidavit…and failed to fully and honestly disclose his assets.” Carol is claiming that he hid assets “in excess of $25 million” in a complex scheme that began when he started an extramarital affair. John is denying his ex-wife’s accusations. The case is now in the discovery phase where, presumably, Carol and her attorneys are attempting to get every document related to these assets to prove that John did indeed own them during the marriage.
If John did fail to honestly and fully disclose all his assets in the divorce case, he could be in serious trouble. Not only will the Judge be able to take these hidden assets into consideration in redistributing marital assets as part of equitable division, but the Judge may also decide to give his ex-wife a larger portion of the martial estate than she otherwise would have received to punish him for his behavior. In addition, he could also be indicted for perjury, since the DFRA is a sworn statement, signed under oath.
For these reasons, when you are filling out a DRFA, it is important to be honest and upfront about your financial situation. False statements or omissions (whether accidental or not) can result in your ex getting a larger portion of the marital estate than he or she otherwise would have if you had been honest from the beginning.