California law mandates that one of the predominant factors in setting the amount of child support is the actual income of the parents. As you might imagine, this can be very difficult if one or both of the parents are self-employed.
Because parents have a mutual duty to support their children, the parties to a divorce proceeding must disclose all aspects of their finances. All assets, liabilities, obligations, earnings, accumulations, and expenses must be disclosed. Assets must be disclosed even if they are owned as separate property. By law, self-employment benefits may be considered by a court in determining a parent’s gross annual income.
Full disclosure is critical to allow the family court to make a proper order of support for the children’s needs. A statutory process is in place to ensure that proper disclosures are made through the submission of certain forms. These forms include a Schedule of Assets and Debts, as well as an Income and Expense Declaration.
When a party is self-employed, however, he or she has control over documents that would be used to establish his or her actual income. These documents might include profit and loss statements, loan applications, credit card statements, and reports showing monthly expenses. The danger of nondisclosure is enhanced in these situations because the business owner has power over the creation and retention of these documents.
Forensic accountants may be used when self-employment is an issue in a family law matter. These specialized accountants are trained in both sound accounting practices and investigative skills. They specialize in reviewing financial documents with an eye toward tracing funds and locating missing funds or documents. They also testify in court about their findings, to ensure the proper amount of income is attributed to a self-employed parent.
When the actual income of a self-employed parent is an issue, it is critical to hire an aggressive family lawyer who has significant experience in business matters. Judy Burger comes from a business background and has worked extensively in highly contested divorce cases involving forensic accountants. Call her today at (415) 259-6636 to learn more about how she can help you.