Obtaining Financial Info in MN Divorce Cases

Often a party to a divorce proceeding will try to hide information about his or her income and assets.  There are various tactics an opposing attorney can use to try to obtain documentation about a party’s real income or assets.

There are, of course, the obvious sources.  These include income tax returns and paycheck stubs.  The problem is that people sometimes lie on their income tax returns and they often receive income that is not reflected on a paycheck stub, W2 or 1099 form.

If the person has a car loan or a mortgage loan, ask to see the actual loan application form that the person filled out when applying for the loan.  Even if the party is hiding income from the divorce court and the IRS, he or she will likely disclose all income to a bank in order to qualify for a loan.  If the party will not give up the loan application, depose an officer of the bank.

Mortgages are on file with the county.  Look at the person’s mortgage.  You can generally calculate what a person’s monthly mortgage payment is if you know the amount of the loan, the term, and the interest rate.

You can also determine the amount that a person paid for real estate by calculating how much tax was paid to file the deed.  The tax varies, depending on the cost of the property.

Often people who are self employed will hide income in their business.  Tney do this by having their business pay their personal expenses.  The business might pay for their car, car insurance, gas, car repairs, food, clothing, rent, etc.  So, the attorney investigating this needs to look at the business records, Quickbooks files, etc.

Sometimes you have to discover checking account statements and checking account records.  The most helpful record is the actual check book register that lists the check numbers, payees, and amounts.

Check court records to see what other lawsuits the party might be involved in.  You never know.  If the party was married before, review the court’s file from the prior divorce proceeding.

Finding undisclosed income and assets is not easy, and often it is not worth the cost.  However, if the income or assets are significant, and if the litigation is adequately funded, with some investigative work an attorney should be able to assemble a reasonable summary of income, assets and debts.

Daniel Fiskum is a Minnesota divorce attorney who has been practicing since 1992. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has been named a "Super Lawyer" by the Minnesota Journal of Law and Politics. Mr. Fiskum is currently writing a book for attorneys and non-attorneys entitled "The Streetfighter's Guide to Divorce," which is scheduled for publication in May, 2010. Many of his blog entries will appear in the book. You may contact attorney Fiskum directly at (952) 270-7700. His office is located in the Carlson Towers in Minnetonka, Minnesota. The Fiskum Law website is found at www.fiskumlaw.com.

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