Did you get divorced in the State of Florida? Do you pay alimony? Is your business or your income suffering because of Coronavirus? Are you unable to make the same level of income going forward because of the lasting effects of COVID19? Or has the pandemic and consequent lockdown put you completely out of business?
Did your former spouse come into a windfall? Perhaps her significant other has moved in with her and they are now splitting what used to be just her household expenses?
Or is it just time for you to retire, but you can’t afford to because of your alimony responsibilities?
If you both still live in Florida, you may find some relief by going back to court. The Florida Statutes provide that most types of alimony may be modified or terminated when there has been an “unexpected, involuntary, and substantial change in circumstances” that affects your ability to pay, or your former spouse’s need for support from you.
Does this apply to you? If you’re not sure, seek legal advice. A lawyer can assist you in determining how high your chances of success might be. Your attorney may also ask you to engage a forensic accountant either in deciding if you are eligible for modification or during the modification process.
Why would an attorney suggest hiring a forensic accountant? Because a forensic accountant can review, analyze, quantify, and present decreased income information to a court. Because a forensic accountant has more credibility than you do.
A forensic accountant can analyze your financial statements (if you own a business) or W-2 or other income-reflecting documents, as well as other financial records, to determine if a decrease has occurred. She can calculate and quantify the amount of the decline. Finally, she can prepare schedules and reports to present the financial data to the courts succinctly, objectively, and believably.
She can also provide expert witness testimony to explain in detail to the court how the income has declined and why. Forensic accountants work at the direction of attorneys for the best possible outcomes.
If your business or income has been devastated by COVID19 and it will not rebound, then consider whether a modification of alimony is an option for you.
|Role||Express Expert Opinions||Explore Client Options|
|Duty||Educate the Court||Educate the Clients|
|Responsibility||Reactive (to a specific list of action items)||Proactive (to evolving needs of the team)|
|Foundation||Use: Case Law for determining Positions||Use: The Process for determining Interests|
|Information Gathering||Formal discovery requests, provide only what’s required, “hide the ball,” “find the ball” distrust basis, thorough||Informal, flexible, transparent, “verify,” trust basis, streamlined yet complete|
|Modus Operandi||Mediate: offer/counter, based on how the judge might rule||Facilitate: creative problem solving & options development, based on clients’ goals and needs|
For more information, contact one of the authors:
Shannon Green, CPA, CFE at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Joryn Jenkins, Family Law Attorney, at email@example.com
Article written by Shannon Green and Joryn Jenkins.