How can a family law attorney determine whether a lifestyle analysis is needed in a divorce case? A suspicious spouse may be all that is needed to begin a lifestyle analysis; however, a more objective basis for undertaking the lifestyle analysis is preferred. This chapter discusses numerous red flags that may indicate hidden income, hidden assets, or other financial irregularities.
Discovery for the financial portion of the family law case can be time-consuming, particularly for cases involving high net worth spouses. There may be many accounts with a high volume of transactions, creating dozens of boxes of financial documents. Unfortunately, this process is a necessary part of family law cases, particularly if there are multiple sources of income, if the totality of the family’s assets is unknown, or if a number of the red flags discussed in Chapter 4 are present.
In this chapter we will discuss the documents that are needed to perform a lifestyle analysis and how those documents are used. In later chapters, we will focus on specific types of income or assets and, more specifically, how the documents are used to investigate those items.
In many divorce cases, it is easy to determine income and identify assets and liabilities. Income includes W-2 wages of the spouses and a few small items such as interest income and dividends. Assets and liabilities are obvious, as they often include houses, automobiles, and a bank account or two. In other divorce cases, it is much more complicated. Divorces involving self-employed individuals, rental properties, income-producing assets, or high-level executives with special perks and benefits are more difficult to evaluate. These are the cases in which more documentation must be evaluated, including the laundry list of documents in Appendix B and possibly other documents depending on the unique factors in the family law case.