Financial Disclosure to the Court
In cases involving child support, property division, maintenance, and bankruptcy, courts in Wisconsin require full disclosure of income, assets, and liabilities. There are many ways to present your financial information to the court. Several software programs such as Intuit’s Quicken or Microsoft Money will facilitate that process and save you money in legal fees or expert witness fees. We have prepared a file to be used with Quicken containing categories that are consistent with Financial Disclosure Statement forms used by the Wisconsin Family Court, the Federal Bankruptcy Court, and the Internal Revenue Service for sole proprietorship businesses. This form can also be used if you operate a small business, and can be modified if you rent real estate to others. You can download a copy of that file from this page and use it with a current version of Quicken software. Note that you must own or purchase Quicken to use this file.
Following are instructions for using the file.
Downloading Our Quicken File To Your Hard Drive
First, create a folder on your hard drive for the quicken file. Before you proceed to the next step, make sure you can find the folder. It is important to know where you have saved this file because at some point you will want to email the file to the firm so we can analyze the data. For those of you who use the Windows operating system, it appears that as of the 2011 version Quicken is using the Microsoft "My Documents" folder.
To obtain our version of the file, click on "Download Quicken Financial Disclosure File" to download the file named “FDS.QDF.” Different browsers will respond differently; you may be prompted to do something like "Save" or "Open." Use of your browser is beyond the scope of these instructions.
In sum, you must find a way to use your browser to save the file to a folder you can find in the future.
Opening the Quicken File
Once you have saved the file named “FDS.QDF” to the folder you created on your hard drive, open the file in Quicken. You can do so in one of two ways. One, open the folder and double click on the file; or two, start Quicken, go to the file pull-down, select open, and navigate to the folder where you stored the “FDS.QDF” file. You will have to convert the file to the version of Quicken you own. Once you have converted the file you can begin to work with it.
Using the Quicken File
Accounts and Categories
The file you downloaded includes all of the categories needed for family law cases, small businesses, and bankruptcy court. The file also includes several accounts which you can modify or delete. Make sure you understand the difference between "categories" and "accounts" before you edit or delete anything. Accounts are for bank accounts, credit cards etc. Categories are to classify your income or expenses. You can classify your income as from business, rents, or employment. You can classify expenses such as rent, food, transportation, business expenses such as advertising, or rental expenses such as maintenance of your rental properties.
If you have more than two credit cards or more than two bank accounts, go to the “accounts” page and add them. You can create new accounts by selecting "Tools," "Account List," then "Add Account." To edit an account, right click on the account. For example, for a checking account, you may want to enter the name of the bank, the account number, etc.
You can also set up an account for each individual asset you may hold, or for loan/mortgage accounts. For example, you can create an asset account for each vehicle you own, each retirement account in your name, etc. You can delete any accounts in our file that are not relevant to your personal financial situation, but do not delete categories.
Once you have set up all of your checking, credit card, loan, and asset accounts, you can start entering data. You can either download the information from your bank or credit card company on the Internet, or manually enter the data with your keyboard. Enter your income as deposits that are made to your checking account and then enter the data for each check that you write or credit card charge you make.
Downloading Transactions: For each account you create there will be an option to download files. Select that option and set up online downloading for each of your accounts. You will need to apply for a user name and password for each account you use. To set up automatic downloading of accounts, right click on the account and select "Edit Account Details." Click here for a demonstration on how to set up automatic downloads.
Categorizing Your Information
As you enter your income and expenses, select a category from the drop-down menu that is consistent with the categories we have already set up for your personal and business income and expenses. We have included all of the categories used by Wisconsin courts for personal expenses (such as rent, food, transportation, etc). We have also included most of the categories used by the IRS for small business expenses. You may add other business expense categories as necessary, but avoid adding new personal categories because we have created this file to follow the Wisconsin Court System Financial Disclosure Statements. You can also split the category if one credit card expenditure or one check was used to pay for more than one category by clicking the split button and choosing multiple categories based on what was purchased. For example, if you wrote a check to Target and part of the check was for food and part of the check was for furniture, you can divide this entry into the two categories.
When you pay a credit card bill from your checking account, you should include that credit card as the category and not one of the categories on the Financial Disclosure Statement or a business expense. If this is not intuitive for you, concentrate hard on this paragraph. You should never classify a payment from a checking account to a credit card as an expense. This is because you should identify each credit card expense in the category box. You paid for the expense when you used the credit card. When you make a payment on the credit card you are reducing the amount you owe the credit card company. By linking the category box of your check to that credit card when you pay your credit card bill with a check, doing so will not double count the category. Instead doing so will reduce the amount shown in your checking account and reduce the amount you owe on the credit card. Click here for screen shots of how transfers from checking to credit cards should appear on your Quicken file.
Cash Accounts: If you use cash, you should set up a cash account. When you obtain cash from your bank account, transfer the amount from the bank account to the cash account. When you spend cash, enter the amount as an expense in the cash account. Save your receipts to prove that you made the payment.
After you have entered your data and categorized your income and expenses, you can go to the “reports” pull-down and generate a report which will show how much money you have spent for any category. You can do this for different time periods. You can use this information to create a profit and loss statement for your business, or to print out an average monthly budget for your personal expenses.