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Is your ex suffering from Sudden Income Deficit Syndrome?

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2016 | Property Division |

It’s a common syndrome striking those about to divorce. The symptoms are common – and often develop right around the time the divorce petition is filed. They may include:

  • Sudden memory loss when it comes to remembering financial details
  • Unforeseen business losses suddenly accruing rapidly at the same rate as marital strife
  • His personal lifestyle oddly does not adversely reflect this new downturn in business fortunes

You don’t need a doctor, you need a forensic accountant

This is one of those conditions uniquely designed to be diagnosed by family law attorneys. Fortunately, the diagnosis isn’t fatal, but you need to act fast. Getting a forensic accountant in to go over your spouse’s business and expense records with a fine-toothed comb is likely to reveal all sorts of interesting tidbits about his new condition that, if left untreated, will deprive you of assets and rights to community property.

Because California is a community property state, there can be much at stake when couples divorce. It’s quite common, unfortunately, to see one spouse become quite devious at attempting to hide assets from the other. The sensible thing to do is be proactive and prepared to fight for your share of the spoils from your marriage.

Self-employed business owners have little oversight

Those same maverick qualities and characteristics that have made your spouse such a business dynamo and provided for the family so handsomely in years past can be put to work against you once the decision is made to divorce. The more Machiavellian your soon-to-be ex-spouse is, the harder he may work to hide his profits from you.

Some begin a couple years in advance, transferring assets, draining certain accounts, changing business terms on client accounts or even letting some go uncollected in order to be able to paint a grimmer financial picture to their spouses, and perhaps even to the courts, during the eventual divorce. That is their endgame, after all – to come out of this split-up as financially unscathed as possible. But it shouldn’t be at your expense.

Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish

As tempting as it may be to rein in the purse strings now to cut costs, a forensic accountant will be worth his or her weight in gold if it can be proven that your ex-spouse was attempting to hide assets from you and the court. Simply the idea of a bean-counter pouring over the books and accounts of the business may be enough to break him out into cold sweats and trembling. Many a sudden-onset case of SIDS has resolved dramatically at this point, with acceptable settlement offers suddenly being proffered.


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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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