Divorce and separation is a financially stressful time. When two people are used to sharing the expenses of everyday living, making the shift to being solely responsible for running a household can be emotionally and financially difficult. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to one spouse being less than truthful during divorce proceedings. Spouses will and do lie in an effort to reduce their liability for spousal maintenance and/or child support. Luckily there are ways to handle a spouse who is lying about his or her income.
Almost every family law proceeding involves a process called discovery. During discovery, your lawyer will have the opportunity to request documents directly from your spouse. These documents include financial statements, paystubs, tax returns, or any other document that is reasonably designed to lead to evidence admissible at trial. Through careful review and consideration of these documents, it is possible to uncover discrepancies between income and financial holdings.
Your attorney may then question your spouse directly about these inconsistencies to dig deeper and uncover where the extra money is being hidden. Hiring certain experts such as a CPA or a forensic accountant can also help when the spouse who is lying about income is being especially sophisticated in his or her methods of concealing or otherwise hiding money or assets.
Your attorney may also issue a subpoena directly to your spouse’s employer. This can be helpful in two ways. First, your attorney would be able to directly question the employer about payment amounts and methods. Second, your attorney may also request copies of particular documents, such as paystubs or W-2s directly from the employer. In cases where your spouse is refusing to provide copies of all or some documentation, this can be an especially useful tool. It is rare that an employer will be willing to lie to a court in order to help an employee perpetrate fraud, so getting the information directly from the employer will often provide complete and accurate information even where a spouse is being untruthful.
Even in the event you are unable to give direct evidence at trial of how your spouse is hiding income, the ultimate choice as to whether to believe you or your spouse about income amounts will be up to the judge. A judge can still refuse to believe your spouse about a drop in income or the amount of income. Accordingly, while it is helpful to be able to provide hard evidence of a lie, it is not always necessary in order to successfully demonstrate that your spouse is not being truthful.
If you believe your spouse is lying about his or her income in order to lower spousal maintenance of child support payments, contact us today at (253) 272-9459. We have experience in helping our clients with these matters and helping them build their financial future