There are many situations in which a client who is getting a divorce from their spouse has no idea how much income they make. Obtaining an accurate statement of net worth is incredibly important for the equitable distribution process. It may sound strange that a person doesn’t know how much their spouse makes but if they are a small business owner or an off-the-books employee, these numbers may be confusing. However, there are ways to get to the bottom of this issue.
One of the first things that we do is a lifestyle analysis. It’s simple. If we look at the husband’s statement of net worth, and he’s claiming monthly expenses of $10,000, an income of only $5,000 a month, yet there’s no debt that’s funding the difference, where’s the money coming from? Lifestyle analyses are simply examining a person’s income versus their expenses to make sure everything lines up.
The second option that we can do is to hire a forensic expert, a forensic accountant, or an appraiser involved in the case so that that forensic evaluator will have access to the husband’s books and records of his business and render an opinion, a report to us, as to what he or she feels the husband’s true income is after review of the books and records of the company.
You should be aware that this is an expensive option to pursue. However, the less-monied spouse would be able to file a motion with the court asking the more monied spouse to pay all or some of fees that the forensic evaluator charges. In some cases, the parties agree to use a neutral forensic evaluator so we don’t have a battle of the experts where the wife hires one expert, the husband hires his own expert, and now we’re in court fighting over which report of the experts the judge should really consider. However, there are avenues available to us to really explore what your spouse’s true income is.
If you require experienced legal representation for divorce and family law matters, contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Paige, P.C. today to schedule a consultation.