When a divorce is pending, it is not uncommon for one of the parties to manipulate the finances. Tracy discusses some common items that can be manipulated such as salary, selling assets to related parties, and more.
In this video, Tracy Coenen explains the purpose and process behind doing a lifestyle analysis in a divorce case. There are three main reasons why a lifestyle analysis may be done:
- To determine the amount of money needed to continue living a lifestyle consistent with the lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage (This relates to child support and alimony.)
- To find hidden sources of income
- To find hidden assets
You know a divorce is in your future, and you owe it to yourself (and your children, if you have them) to protect yourself financially. Money isn’t everything, but it is very important when you consider your future apart from your spouse. You may or may not have the ability to support yourself. Retirement may be near, and that will require you to think carefully. You have a right to a share of the assets and income generated during the marriage, and you must take steps to protect yourself.
1. Secure funds for attorneys, other professionals, and living expenses. If you are not in control of the family’s money, it may be difficult or impossible for you to get access to funds during the divorce. It is not uncommon for the moneyed spouse (the one with the majority of the income and/or the control over the family’s money) to cut off the money so the other spouse will agree to a quick divorce settlement. Read More
Forensic accountants and Certified Divorce Financial Analysts often use Quicken personal financial software to complete the lifestyle analysis in divorce cases. Unfortunately, Quicken is not the best option for accurately and thoroughly analyzing a couple’s finances before and during divorce.
Why is it used so often? For years, Quicken was one of the better options available for compiling and analyzing personal finances. Also, since a fair number of consumers use Quicken to manage their finances, divorcing spouses sometimes provide a Quicken file to the attorney, which may be used as a starting point for the lifestyle analysis. The drawback to this is that clients don’t always keep accurate records, and the Quicken file is often incomplete or just plain wrong.
Quicken software should not be confused with QuickBooks software, which is a software package used for small business accounting. QuickBooks can be used effectively in divorce financial analysis, while Quicken is much more limited and does not produce as good a result in terms of accuracy or usability. Note, however, that even QuickBooks may not be the best option for litigation purposes. Read More
Experienced family lawyers are familiar with the common ways spouses attempt to commit financial fraud in divorce: hiding or undervaluing assets, overstating debts, concealing income, and inflating or fabricating expenses. All of these are done in an attempt to get more than the spouse’s fair share in the property division, and to influence the amount of support that will be paid or received.
Successfully advocating for your client involves more than just knowing that these things occur during the divorce process. You must also be able to identify the red flags that indicate the financial issue(s) must be investigated further. Some are easier to spot than others, but once you have identified two or three red flags, it is time to get a forensic accountant involved. The financial analyst’s experience with fraud and deception will be invaluable in evaluating the red flags and determining if there is something of substance to investigate further.
The most straightforward red flag is the discovery of undisclosed accounts. This could be direct evidence of a spouse attempting to conceal assets. However, the nature of the undisclosed account should be examined. Is it an old account that hasn’t been used in a long time? Is there little to no activity in the account? Is the balance in the account insignificant? In these situations, little weight should be given to the non-disclosure, since it is more likely an oversight. Read More
After completing a lifestyle analysis for a divorce case, a written report is often requested. In the below video, Tracy describes the information she puts in her written reports, which often includes things like background information, documents utilized, important estimates, and methodology used.
Income tax returns are an important piece of financial information in a divorce or child support case. There is so much information that can be obtained from the tax returns, and if we have several years of data, we can make comparisons from year-to-year. In the video below, Tracy talks about the financial data she analyzes on the income tax returns and what these items may tell us about the financial situation of the family.
Child support, spousal support, and property division are often evaluated in light of the income of the each of the parties to a divorce.The parties fill out financial disclosure forms and purport to tell the court and the spouse the truth about their income. If one spouse is not truthful about his or her income, this can provide a great opportunity for the other side.
The spouse immediately appears to not be credible, and this can affect the entire case. If he or she is lying about income, he or she may be lying about other important things in the divorce.
The first step in evaluating claimed income is comparing it to documents that can confirm or refute the claims. This may include: Read More
When the Internal Revenue Services suspects that a taxpayer has unreported income, the agents can use one of several methods to uncover that income. These methods can also be used to help calculate hidden income in a divorce or child support case. One such method used to determine unreported income is the bank deposits method, in which the forensic accountant analyzes bank deposits. In the video below, Tracy explains how this is done.
When a party to a divorce or child support case is believed to be hiding income or assets, one way uncover proof of it is through a lifestyle analysis. Such an analysis is not only helpful in establishing the true income of the subject, it can also uncover inconsistencies which reflect negatively on the subject’s credibility.
One key piece of documentation that can help your case against someone who is concealing income or assets is a loan application. When borrowing funds for homes, cars, boats, or business investments, people are often required to disclose details of their personal finances. This usually includes disclosing monthly or yearly income, as well as the value of assets such as homes, vehicles, real estate, and business interests. Read More