When a spouse involved in a divorce owns a business, the finances of that business must be analyzed. A Business Lifestyle Analysis can be done to determine the true income of the company and find out where the money is really going. In this video, Tracy Coenen talks about how she analyzes the detailed accounting records of a business.
Closely held businesses present special challenges in the family law setting. Typically, only one spouse is actively involved in the business. Therefore, not only does the spouse control the family’s finances, he or she also controls all of the records of the business. When a spouse is attempting to quantify the income from the business or the value of the business, the spouse who works actively in the business can purposely (and often very effectively) obstruct attempts to get accurate and complete data.
Certain types of businesses, such as restaurants and retail stores, can be prone to manipulation because they have so many cash transactions. Construction companies, real estate ventures, and auto dealerships are notorious for “creative” bookkeeping. Professional service providers, such as doctors, dentists, and attorneys are at risk for financial maneuvering because it is so difficult to verify the amount of professional services actually provided to patients or clients.
Any business that is closely held and has finances that are easily manipulated by the owner is at risk. If this happens, the “out” spouse is left looking for alternatives to get to the bottom of the finances. Techniques used in a personal lifestyle analysis can also be applied to businesses to ferret out the truth about the money.
My new book, Lifestyle Analysis in Divorce Cases: Investigating Spending and Finding Hidden Income and Assets, is being published by the American Bar Association this summer. It will be the only book available on the topic of lifestyle analysis in divorce cases. While there are plenty of excellent books on financial issues in divorce, none of them focuses on the lifestyle analysis, how it is done, and how the results may be used in court.
This book focuses solely on the lifestyle analysis in the family law case, although other services from a financial professional may also be needed in a case. The lifestyle analysis is the process of tabulating and analyzing the income and expenses of the parties. The lifestyle analysis is then used to determine the standard of living of the parties, which will influence support calculations, and possibly property division.
How much does your judge really understand about financial issues? Will he or she be able to sort out cases with complex accounting and finance scenarios? Tracy Coenen and Miles Mason discuss how your expert witness can help the judge understand.
In December 2013, Chris Mackney (aka Christopher Machnij) committed suicide after penning a suicide note and posting it publicly on the internet. The letter alleges that Mackney was a victim of a corrupt family court system, and was being alienated from his young children. His inability to access his children appears to be a major factor in his suicide.
The text of the suicide note was posted on a forum at A Voice For Men in February, without much fanfare. But then Dina Mackney, the departed’s ex-wife decided she did not want anyone to read about the allegations against her. So she used the courts to help her scrub the internet of Chris Mackney’s existence.
When client budgets are tight, there is a reluctance to spend money on professionals such as forensic accountants and private investigators. But I have learned that the do-it-yourself method (either the client doing it or the attorney doing it) often misses the mark. There is a reason why professionals are trained in specialty fields. Simply put, the professionals have training and techniques that go beyond what an attorney can typically do.
Brian Willingham at Diligentia Group (private investigators) wrote an excellent article on attorneys using private investigators. Among the things a professional private investigator can do for a client are locating assets and doing historical reconstructions (such as piecing together family history to locate heirs).
When a divorcing spouse owns a business, it is imperative to dig into the financial records of the business in order to value it and to determine where the money is going. Tracy Coenen and Miles Mason talk about the documents that a forensic accountant needs in order to evaluate the business.
There are many different definitions of income that can be used in family law cases. Local law will play a big part in defining income, but in more complicated cases, other definitions may come into play. The financial expert can help the attorneys and the court to understand the various types of income and why they should be included or excluded from income calculations in a family law case.
The Internal Revenue Code is often a starting point for defining and quantifying income in family law cases. Experienced family lawyers know this is only the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t cover many of the unusual situations that could arise in cases with complicated financial scenarios.
In simpler cases, wage income and business income will be straightforward and will form the basis for calculating child support and spousal support. Undistributed income from a business venture may be an area of contention, but local laws often provide at least basic guidance on including such income in support calculations.
Francine McKenna is an investigative reporter who focuses her writings on the auditing profession. She blogs at re: The Auditors, and also writes for financial publications such as Forbes, The Financial Times, American Banker, and more.
In February, Ms. McKenna wrote about the auditors of AgFeed, a Chinese company involved in an elaborate accounting fraud. In March 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged the company and its top executives with fraud:
With the bulk of its hog production operations in China, the executives used a variety of methods to inflate revenue from 2008 to mid-2011, including fake invoices for the sale of feed and purported sales of hogs that didn’t really exist. They later tried to cover up their actions by saying the fake hogs died. Because fatter hogs bring higher market prices, they also inflated the weights of actual hogs sold and correspondingly inflated the sales revenues for those hogs.
Xyngular is a weight loss MLM (multi-level marketing) company which advertises quick, sustainable weight loss using their products. Last year I wrote a lengthy article about the Xyngular products, and I came to the conclusion that the products are dangerous, the diet is a fad diet (which is almost guaranteed to be unsustainable), and promoters like Jennifer McKinney (MckMama) lie to their potential customers and recruits.
I wanted to provide an update on the Xyngular and Ignite products. My stance hasn’t changed. If anything, I am even more strongly against the products after seeing the things I’m posting here.
Jennifer McKinney is most well known for being the mommy blogger MckMama, as well as for being a serial scammer. Her exploits include fraud on the United States Bankruptcy Court, allegedly stealing money from her mother-in-law, continuing to leave creditors unpaid, and lying about her weight loss in order to recruit people into Xyngular.