Reprise: 8.05’s Worth Their Weight in Gold

July 17, 2014 § 2 Comments

Judge Fair of the COA called 8.05’s the “gold standard” of financial proof in chancery court. Yet, quite often what we are given is either fool’s gold or pure lead.

Stop fiddling around and get serious about your client’s financial statements.

Here’s just about everything I can offer to help …


March 14, 2011 § 6 Comments

I posted here ten tips for more effective financial statements.

Here are a handful more to use in your quest for financial statement perfection:

  1. Number the pages.  It saves the fumbling around as the witness and the court are trying to orient themselves to your questioning.  And use the page numbers in questioning the witness:  “Ms. Smith, look with me at page 3, line 6.”  That’s a lot clearer and easier for a witness to follow than asking “Now you say you spend $200 a month on clothes for yourself; how did you come up with that?” 
  2. Add or delete categories to meet your needs.  Your client spends $65 a month buying yarn and other materials to feed her knitting habit.  Why not replace an unused catergory like “Transportation (other than automobile)” with “Hobby Expenses.”  It would be a whole lot clearer than lumping it in with household expenses or something else, and will make it easier for your nervous client to understand while testifying.
  3. Don’t list a deduction as “mandatory” when it is not.  Deductions required by law, such as taxes and social security are excluded from adjusted gross income for calculation of child support.  Voluntary contributions, such as 401(k) deductions, health insurance premiums, and the like are not excluded from income.  When you list voluntary deductions as “mandatory,” you are at worst planting false information in the record, and at best confusing the record.  Your client does not know the distinction.  This is part of practicing law: advising your client how to properly fill out his or her 8.05.
  4. Attach a current pay stub.  Pay stubs are a marvelous source of information.  Quite often clients (and attorneys, I am sad to report) miscalculate income.  A current pay stub, preferably with year-to-date (YTD) info is a great tool to check the income figures.  Pay stubs also show the true amounts of overtime, bonuses, deductions for insurance and other items, andd retirement contributions. 
  5. Tailor your 8.05 to the case you are trying.  In a divorce case, you can have one column of figures showing your client’s current expenses, one showing the household expenses before the separation (to show standard of living), and a third column showing her anticipated expenses following the divorce.  In a modification case, add a column on both the income and expense side showing what your client’s income and expenses were at the time of the judgment you are seeking to modify. 

Of all the documents you admit into evidence at trial, the 8.05 is the one that the judge will study the closest and spend the most time poring over.  Make it a workhorse for your case.


§ 2 Responses to Reprise: 8.05’s Worth Their Weight in Gold

  • philip says:

    In reading this entry, I noticed section 3 of the March 14, 2011 post talks about “mandatory” deductions and voluntary contributions. It seems curious to me that the 8.05 form promulgated by the Mississippi Supreme Court includes an entry for “Mandatory Insurance” under the Itemized Monthly Deductions section for arriving at Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for calculating child support.

    Now that the Affordable Health Care Act requires health insurance coverage and the United States Supreme Court has characterized the mandate as being a tax, do you anticipate health insurance premiums being deductible for calculating AGI?

    • Larry says:

      [My prior comment is withdrawn]

      Since MCA 43-19-101(b) specifies what are the “legally mandated deductions,” the allowable deductions are limited to those. Since (b)(i) specifically mentions “Federal, state and local taxes,” and the ACA-plan premiums have been adjudicated to be taxes, I think there is a good argument to be made that they should be deductible. As for non ACA-plan premiums, such as private HI premiums, whether they should be treated as a “tax” since they are also mandated by the ACA is a question of law that would hinge on the language of the statute and the SCOTUS decision(s) on the issue. Not having read either, I shuld not hazard a guess.

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