Generally, tax returns, paystubs, and traditional wages are the easiest way to determine one’s income for purposes of child support and/or alimony. However, not all spouses earn income this traditional way. Non-traditional earnings, including dividends from income investments, passive income, retained earnings in a closely-held corporation (if excessive or inappropriate), Social Security benefits, as well as more-complex income streams may be taken into account when determining child support and/or alimony obligations.
If a spouse earns non-traditional income, your divorce attorney may recommend you seek the assistance of an expert to support in determining a complete picture of the income available for child support and/or alimony purposes. Financial documents, including tax returns, bank account statements, investment portfolios, profit/loss statements, and so forth, will be analyzed by your attorney and supporting expert(s) in your case.
Experts are often certified public accountants. CPAs with certifications in forensic accounting can be especially valuable expert witnesses. Upon conducting a forensic analysis of a spouse’s income and financial documentation, an expert will provide an opinion as to what that spouse’s true income is. That amount will then be used in calculating child support and an appropriate alimony award, if applicable.
If you or your spouse earn non-traditional income, contact our office to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your options and what you can expect in your divorce action.