Coming Up With Your Divorce Budget

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It can be difficult to come up with a budget for your future living expenses when getting divorced. Most people don’t know how much they have been spending on various things like clothing, groceries, and dining out. It can also be difficult because we need to consider the spouse’s reasonable needs in the future. Things can become even more complicated if the earnings of the parties aren’t sufficient to support two households at the same level they had during the marriage.

Nonetheless, budgets or projections of future spending should be prepared, and a financial expert should take steps to verify the figures and determine if they are reasonable.

What historical period should be evaluated when creating the budget? It is typical to evaluate one to five years of data, but there is no hard and fast rule for the time period that should be analyzed. Contrary to the position advanced in some divorces, future needs are not necessarily based only on expenditures in the last year of marriage. What if spending had been increasing by 10% per year for each of the last five years of the marriage? A case could be made that future needs should reflect a similar increase. Continue reading

How Not to Suck at Divorce Podcast

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Today I have the honor of being the guest on one of the most popular divorce podcasts…. How Not to Suck at Divorce with Morgan Stogsdill and Andrea Rappaport. Episode 20 is all about Divorce Finances, Forensics & Fraud.

I love how they describe me:

Today’s episode is like divorce meets CSI as we welcome Tracy Coenen. You may have seen her on CNBC On the Money, CBS, NBC, and in the Wall Street Journal. Tracy is a certified public accountant, certified in financial forensics, a master analyst and fraud investigator. If you’re wondering what all this means, Tracy finds money. Money that has disappeared that you want back.

What did we talk about? Continue reading

Protecting a Spouse’s Financial Interest in Divorce

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When a spouse knows that a divorce is imminent, there are obvious steps to secure his or her financial future. First, a competent divorce attorney must be retained. Next, the division of assets and income should be considered. Yet when it comes to the financial details, clients often do not know what to do.

An uncertain financial future may scare the client, but the fear of the unknown makes it more important than ever to focus on protecting the client’s financial interests. The divorce attorney can provide this list of simple (but sometimes overlooked) tips to the client to help aggressively fight the financial case in divorce court:

1. Secure funds for living expenses, attorneys, and other professionals. A spouse who does not control the family’s finances may find it difficult to get access to funding during the divorce. It is not uncommon for the moneyed spouse to cut off access to money to force a quick (and possibly unfair) divorce settlement. It is important for you to legally get access to and secure money that will only be available to him or her. Relying solely on family court to award funding for living expenses and divorce professionals is far too risky. Continue reading

Finding Hidden Income in Divorce

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Divorces and child support cases often focus heavily on financial issues. Whether the parties to a case are of modest means or great wealth, both sides want their own version of what is fair. Unfortunately, this can lead one or both parties to hide income and assets. With the help of a financial expert, counsel can identify income and assets that might otherwise go undiscovered, and hopefully reach an equitable end to a divorce or child support case.

Sources of income and assets owned can be identified with the right documentation. Attorneys need to be familiar with some of the most common financial documents so they know what to request. Attorneys with financial knowledge can also help identify issues that may need further analysis in a family law case. Continue reading