Self-Employed and Income in Divorce, Child Support, Maintenance and Beyond
As a family lawyer throughout the regions of Long Island and New York, Mr. Darren M. Shapiro often experiences several different circumstances and complications that present themselves throughout the course of a family law case or divorce. Family law and divorce, in its very nature, is a complicated subject, but beyond the emotional disturbance that it creates within a couple's lives, there are also a range of more practical concerns to consider. From matters of equitable distribution regarding the arrangement of assets between two spouses, to child support, orders of protection, and more, each family brings a range of issues with it to the court room, or mediation setting. By far, one of the most complex issues that arises in family law is associated with proving the income of another spouse or parent. After all, it's essential to know all the financial details for any individual so that the court can make reasonable decisions about each spouse's future.
Child support is payable to the residential custodial parent in New York until the children are emancipated, and spousal support can be awarded by a court when a couple is still married - providing specific circumstances are in place. However, maintenance, (or alimony) - is the payment made by one spouse to another following a divorce, or throughout the process of divorce. The reason for the awarded payment is to help the spouse with less money to support themselves as they re-adjust their life after divorce. Sometimes the benefit of spousal support can be critical when it comes to giving supported spouses the money that they require to get educational training for a new job. Since 2016, in New York the guidelines for maintenance, child, and spousal support are now all based on income. This means that the challenge becomes proving income when another person in the case isn't being completely transparent. This is especially complicated when someone is self-employed, or working "off the books".
If one or more people within a partnership seeking divorce is working on a self-employed basis, or off the books, then the matter of determining income is generally more complicated. Not only do individuals need to determine the details of child support and maintenance, but they also need to find a way to prove the income of the other parent. Proving this income is essential because it represents an important factor for any court to think about when deciding whether support should be awarded. If a spouse is a standard employee, then getting the information required would be far simpler - as it would involve an examination of basic paychecks. However, proving the income of a spouse that is self-employed or working off the books can be complex, as a lot of self-employed people know how to work the system and claim large amounts of expenses.
One method of proving income is to show lifestyle. For instance, evaluating a person's expenses compared to their claimed income could indicate that the income in question doesn't make any sense. Proof of activities and assets might come in the form of photographs, documents, witnesses, and even posts on social media. Some people may even choose to hire a private investigator. Frequently, Mr. Shapiro finds that if questions are asked about how a person pays expenses if their income is low, that person responds that "someone else" pays their expenses. In this case, the court might add in income to that party based on the expenses that are allegedly paid by someone else.
Mr. Shapiro finds numerous clients approaching them and asking how they can determine the accuracy of the income information they receive from a self-employed ex. However, it is very difficult to ensure that anyone is providing full and accurate information - though all individuals should provide accurate information to avoid further penalties such as perjury charges. During a family law or divorce case, when a motion is filed for maintenance, spousal support, child support, or attorney fees, each side must provide information on their typical expenses and income. No matter the reason for the request for such information, the New York law dictates that these forms must be properly filled out. For self-employed individuals, a profit and loss statement combined with tax filings may be applicable.
For individuals that have significant trouble in defining the truth behind an ex-spouse's accounts - one option could be to use discovery techniques. In divorce litigation, most information is relevant to the case and thus discoverable. This means that the court will often permit the search for information related to someone's income. If you ask for bank statements of a spouse, and he or she will not provide them, then the court can be asked to compel such information from the spouse. Subpoenas may be issued that require that individual to provide more information about their foreseeable and present income. Another solution is to hire, or request the appointment of a forensic accountant in your case. This can sometimes be the only true method for accurately determining your spouse's income. These accountants can evaluate documents given by your spouse and determine whether he or she earns enough to provide spousal support or maintenance.
Although it can be complicated to foresee an impending divorce, those who feel their marriage may be coming to an end may benefit from watching the details that your spouse generates during his or her time as a self-employed individual. Sometimes, evaluating bank statements can help you to get a good idea of how much a spouse earns at any given time. Unfortunately, proving self-employment income can be complex, costly, and time-consuming - but it is a matter that can be essential when it comes to providing you with the financial support you need to maintain your lifestyle after a marriage ends. Mr. Darren M. Shapiro can offer guidance and help when it comes to ensuring you pursue your best interests during a divorce.
Please contact our principle, Mr. Darren M. Shapiro at your earliest convenience to schedule your free initial consultation of up to thirty minutes. Mediating couples may also arrange their own thirty-minute consultation. You can get in touch either via our online form, or over the phone at (516) 333-6555.