ABA Section of Litigation’s Sound Advice: Dividing Shared Business Assets During a Divorce

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Earlier this year, I recorded a Sound Advice podcast for the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation.  When dividing shared business assets in a divorce, it is important to fully evaluate the finances of the businesses. It is impossible to fairly divide these assets if you do not dig into the financial details.

This podcast goes through the financial documents needed, including the tax returns (and which forms you should ask for, based on whether the business is a corporation, partnership, LLC, or sole proprietorship), the financial statements, and the detailed accounting records. Continue reading

CHECKLIST: Gathering Financial Documents for Divorce

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divorce financial analysisThis article was originally printed in the ABA Section of Family Law eNewsletter, April 2013.

Financial documents are at the heart of divorces. Regardless of how contentious or amicable a divorce is, the finances of the spouses will need to be separated, and financial documents are required to make the division. Whether the information sought is current or historical, unaltered documents tell the truth about the money. This truth needs to be examined in every divorce before assets, debts, and income can be divided.

While financial documents can often be easily obtained during divorce proceedings, it is much easier for the spouse with access to the documents to simply copy and/or retain the documents. This reduces the number of discovery requests and subpoenas, and eliminates the time spent waiting to receive documents. Continue reading

My Spouse Is Hiding Assets In Our Divorce…

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divorcemagazine.com

One frequently asked question from divorcing individuals is what to do if the spouse is suspected to be hiding assets. I recently outlined the steps that should be taken if a spouse is worried about the other spouse manipulating assets and income:

If you think your spouse may be attempting to hide income or assets during your divorce proceeding, your first step should be to tell your divorce attorney. Your attorney should know how to handle situations such as this, and the sooner he or she can act, the more likely you are to see results.

You should also quickly gather and secure any documentation that might prove your allegations. Financial documents that you can legally access should be copied and turned over to your attorney. This might include tax returns, pay stubs, credit card statements, bank statements, brokerage statements, contracts, or any other documents which might prove the existence of assets or streams of income.

Read the rest of the article here.

The article can also be found in the Spring 2013 print edition of Divorce Magazine.

 

Finding Hidden Income and Assets In Family Law Cases

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This article was originally printed in the On Balance, the magazine of the Wisconsin Institute of CPAs, March/April 2013.

Divorce and child support cases often are highlighted by disputes over money. One party may be accused of artificially depressing earnings, hiding assets or manipulating the finances to lower the financial obligation to another party. Understanding the complete picture of the finances is necessary before a fair settlement can be reached.

Chicago divorce attorney Jeffrey Knipmeyer, partner at Nottage & Ward, cautions that spouses of individuals hiding income and assets rarely have the financial sophistication to recognize that manipulation is occurring. He adds that during the marriage, they typically have been hands-off, and their only knowledge of the finances depends on what the spouse has communicated. Continue reading

Tax Fraud and Family Law

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If you’re a family law attorney practicing in Wisconsin, you might want to consider attending a State Bar of Wisconsin CLE seminar being presented by Gregg Herman and Al Dassow on January 11, 2013. They’re talking about Tax and Tax Fraud Issues in Family Law.

Gregg Herman has been practicing family law since I was a little kid (he’s going to hate me for saying that), and I’m fortunate to run into him in my office building from time to time. He has blogs on family law issues, and I urge you to take a peek at his blog and put it into your RSS reader so you can keep up with it. He has been blogging faithfully for the better part of a year (no small feat!) and I am looking forward to reading more. Continue reading

Paternity Fraud: Recourse for Swindled Fathers

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Last week, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a mother can be sued for fraud by a man duped into thinking he was the father of her child. She can also be ordered to repay child support she received from the man. This is the first time a claim of paternity fraud is being recognized in Iowa.

Joseph Dier supported a child born to Cassandra Jo Peters for more than two years after she convinced him that he was the father of the girl. Dier sought full custody of the child in December of 2009, but in 2011 Peters came clean and said that he was not the father. Indeed, two paternity tests showed that he could not be the girl’s father. Continue reading

Book Review: The Forensic Accounting Deskbook

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The Forensic Accounting Deskbook by Memphis divorce attorney Miles Mason is billed as a guide to financial investigations for family lawyers. This designation sells the book short. The book is an outstanding guide to financial analysis and forensic accounting not only for attorneys, but also for accountants and fraud investigators. Professionals at any level – – from beginner to seasoned expert witness – – can learn much from this book.

The book is exceptionally well organized, with numerous guides and examples that can be used as templates or guides for your current cases. The Forensic Accounting Deskbook begins with an introduction to forensic accounting and engaging the right CPA for your case.  It then moves into accounting for lawyers, which is an excellent overview. Many of the common accounting buzzwords and catch phrases are defined, and knowing what these mean will be invaluable to the attorney. The more you know about the financial issues, the better you can advocate for your client. Continue reading

Finding Bank Accounts and Financial Records

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I get asked all the time whether I can find hidden bank accounts around the world.  The answer is mostly no. Brian Willingham of Diligentia Group wrote a helpful article about this last year, entitled “Can a Private Investigator Get Bank Records or Account Information?”. His answer is also no.

There are laws in place to protect your financial privacy. So if a private investigator, forensic accountant, or other professional tells you that they can find hidden bank accounts, you can be assured that they are using dishonest and illegal means to do so. Continue reading

Are Divorce Lawyers Necessary?

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Today the Wall Street Journal had a piece about the Texas Supreme Court considering whether to allow people to use fill-in-the-blank forms for divorces, potentially saving them a lot of money in legal fees. It is possible to handle your divorce pro se, but there is a concern that people are doing so to their own detriment.  In an effort to help do-it-yourself divorcees, 36 states currently have fill-in-the-blank forms for divorce.

It is simple to find forms to use in your divorce, but some attorneys say that this is a problem because divorcing couples don’t use the right forms, become a burden on the courts when they require hand-holding, and can make uninformed decisions during the process of the divorce. Continue reading

Discovery of Financial Documents in Family Law Cases

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Recently, my very smart friend and colleague Randy Kessler, Esq. participated in a podcast called Show Me the Money: Helping Clients Find and Protect Assets in a Divorce for the American Bar Association  Journal. The podcast focused on finding (and keeping!) assets in divorce and child support matters.

I’ve written about finding hidden income in divorce cases, as well as performing a lifestyle analysis to prove that there are hidden earnings. The concealment of assets and earnings in a divorce case is a hot-button issue. It is important to get your arms around these issues early if you are to have a good chance of finding the money and getting your share of the money. Continue reading