Income Available For Support

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forensic-accountingThis article was originally printed in the ABA Section of Family Law eNewsletter, May 2013.

The issue of “income available for support” in divorces can be huge, particularly if only one spouse works. The issue gets complex if the earnings of one or both spouses are non-traditional. Regular wages are usually easy to evaluate in a divorce case, while income from businesses, real estate, and other investments become more complicated.

As a general rule, there is latitude in state courts when it comes to income and what is included or excluded for support calculation. There are general rules about the most common forms of income, but they don’t cover every issue and they all have a bit of “gray area” within them.

It is important to know the tricky kinds of income and cash flow that come up in divorces, as well as the varying views of how and why they should be included or excluded. Some of the types of income or expenses that may be treated differently from divorce to divorce and jurisdiction to jurisdiction include: 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

Financial Discovery Checklist: Divorce and Child Support Cases

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Below is a lengthy list of items that a divorce attorney should consider requesting in discovery in family law cases. In the typical divorce or child support matter, many of these items will be irrelevant or non-existent. This list is provided to give you a comprehensive list of items you should consider. However, this list is not exhaustive, and depending on the unique financial issues in your case, additional items may need to be requested.

Basic financial documents to request or subpoena: 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

Divorce Financials: Lifestyle Analysis in Family Law Cases

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This article was originally printed in the ABA Section of Family Law eNewsletter, November 2011.

One of the chief concerns in a divorce or child custody case is identifying the true income of one or both of the parties. It is not unusual for such a case to include allegations of hidden income or assets. It is common for a closely held business to suspiciously encounter declining sales and profits following the filing of a family law case.

In each of these instances, properly determining the income of the party is critical to getting a fair and equitable settlement, maintenance award, or child support award. Until you have the correct numbers, the attorney may find it very difficult to decide what is fair or in the best interest of the client. Continue reading

Finding Hidden Income in Divorce Cases: Loan Applications

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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. Continue reading

Proving Income in Divorce and Child Support Cases

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In divorce and child support cases, one party may attempt to hide income and assets to deprive the spouse or children of their rightful support. It can be difficult to prove hidden earnings or assets, particularly if the other party owns a business, owns assets within corporations or partnerships, or has other financial vehicles that could be used to conceal wealth.

However, there are ways to discover the existence of assets or reasonably estimate the person’s level of earnings. One such way is a lifestyle analysis, which calculates the earnings necessary to live the known lifestyle of the target.

Continue reading