More couples hiding wealth from each other

Dreamstime_3067742_3 Honesty may be the best policy for a successful marriage. But when it comes to divorce, couples are becoming increasingly devious in concealing their wealth from each other.

One fifth of couples who divorced last year tried to conceal their assets or income from their spouse – a figure which has doubled since 2006 – a report has found.

The study – by the accounting firm Grant Thornton, which surveyed 100 family lawyers – found that husbands were much more dishonest when a marriage crumbled.

In cases where assets had been hidden, 88 per cent involved men concealing wealth from their wives. Just two per cent involved women hiding assets. In the remainder of cases, both partners tried to conceal wealth from one another.

Family law experts say a spate of expensive, high-profile divorce cases, such as that of Sir Paul McCartney and his wife, Heather Mills McCartney, is spurring couples to hide their wealth from each other.

John Charman, the insurance magnate, was forced by the courts to pay his ex-wife a record £48 million settlement last year.

The property multi-millionaire Stuart Crossley was involved in a dispute with his wife Susan after she alleged during divorce proceedings that he had failed to tell her about millions in offshore accounts. She later dropped her claim for a financial settlement.

Andrea McLaren, the head of Grant Thornton’s matrimonial practice, said: "The number of couples hiding assets from one another has increased by 100 per cent since last year, which is staggering.

"High-profile, big-money cases have scared individuals into trying to hide assets and there is now the perception that women are receiving more favourable settlements than men."

Vanessa Lloyd Platt, a specialist in divorce law, said she had seen a surge in the number of men trying to conceal wealth from their wives.

"Men are seeing these huge settlements and they are terrified," she said. "If they think a marriage might break down, more and more men are panicking and trying to put their capital into trusts and offshore accounts or buy assets in a third party’s name so that they are hidden from their wives.

"It is not unheard of for women to lie but, in my experience, men are more likely to be dishonest when it comes to matrimonial disclosure."

The succession of high-profile divorce cases has also seen a surge in the number of couples drawing up pre-nuptial agreements. A survey of law firms found that 67 per cent reported taking on more pre-nuptial work in the past year.

From The Telegraph.

SOURCE FOR POST: California Divorce and Family Law Blog

Nation’s Top Divorce Lawyers Note Dramatic Rise in Electronic Evidence

E-mails are Primary Source with Wives Most Likely to Use Them

A resounding 88% of the nation’s top divorce attorneys say they have seen an increase in the number of cases using electronic data as evidence during the past five years, according to a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). E-mail takes the lead as the most commonly used form of technological evidence, with 82% citing it as the main source. Interestingly, the survey also reveals that wives are more likely to make use of electronic evidence than husbands.

"As in all other areas of our lives, technology is having a big impact on the way that divorces are now conducted," said James Hennenhoefer, president of the AAML. "Many people still don’t realize how much evidence can be gleaned from personal electronics ranging from computers to cell phones and GPS devices. In the Internet age, there is often a very clear trail that has been left behind and can be easily traced."

In all, 82% of the AAML members who responded said that e-mail has become the most common form of electronic evidence during the past five years. Text/instant messaging and Internet browsing history tie for second with 7% each, while 1% of the respondents cite data taken from GPS systems.

A gender difference also emerged between which spouse uses electronic evidence more often in divorce cases. In all, 27% of the members said that wives use electronic data more often during a divorce case while only 5% said husbands did.


Cell Phone Voice Messages and Custody Disputes

Cellphone Should you keep a record of those angry cell phone voice messages from your ex?  The now infamous Alec Baldwin voicemail message to his daughter (in which he berates his daughter) illustrates how advances in technology can help introduce evidence into child custody battles.  In some situations, this evidence can point out character flaws that aren’t always obvious to the courts. The following information about copying answering machine recordings and cell phone voice mail messages can come in handy if you are gathering evidence for a custody case.

Voicemail Messages May Influence Court Custody Decisions.
Will You Be Ready?

If you’ve ever considered recording your phone conversations, you know that it is illegal [in many states; not Georgia; see Georgia’s Laws on Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations] unless you get the other person’s permission. Ironically, if you are trying to capture angry, hysterical, threatening or scary conversations from someone, this would defeat the purpose, because they most likely would never agree to be recorded! And even if you did make a recording, because it is illegal, it would not be admissible in court!

But, if this type of person leaves a message on your answering machine or on your voicemail, it is understood that they are being recorded. Therefore, it is more likely that this would be allowed in a court situation to support your divorce or custody case. Each situation and jurisdiction is different regarding these matters, so we cannot say that in every case, the voicemails would be allowed in court, but we can say that it is more likely than secretly recording a phone conversation.

If you have cell phone voice messages that you think would help you in court, you probably have been saving them every few days. If you didn’t, you know that your service will erase them permanently after 30 days. The problem is that eventually, you have saved so many messages that there is no room for more messages. This frustrates everyone and makes the angry caller suspicious.

So, that leaves us with the question of "how do I get these voicemail messages onto a CD?"

There are four options:

OPTION 1 – VoIP Service + Phone Recording Software. This is where you have your computer call your voicemail and you record the message directly into your computer.

OPTION 2 – Cable Connection + Phone Recording Software. This is where you hook up cables between your phone and your computer and you record the message directly into your computer.

OPTION 3 – Receive Voicemail as Email Attachment. This is where you sign up for a third party service that has a feature that can literally grab your voicemail and send it to you as an mp3 in an email attachment.

OPTION 4 – Voicemail Transfer Service. This is where you hire someone to do it for you.

SOURCE FOR POST: Woman’s Divorce Blog in an article written by Howard Richman.

Related Posts:

Georgia’s Laws on Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations

High-Tech Evidence: A Lawyer’s Friend or Foe?


Illegal Electronic Surveillance in Divorce Cases

Tell-All PCs and Phones Transforming Divorce


Formal Discovery Versus Informal Discovery

Dreamstime_3695888 Discovery is the process of obtaining and providing information in the family court proceeding.  The formal process of discovery includes interrogatories; requests for production of documents; and depositions.  Interrogatories are questions or demands for information that must be answered in writing.  Requests for production of documents involve providing copies of documents such as bank statements, asset verifications, tax returns and real estate records.  Depositions are oral proceedings in which the person answering questions is providing sworn testimony, and the questions and answers are placed on record by a court reporter. 

In many cases, it is not necessary to proceed with formal discovery, if there is enough cooperation between the parties and their attorneys.  In divorce cases, the parties are required by law to disclose relevant information so as not to defraud each other (or the court) in arriving at a fair and equitable settlement.  Consequently, it is often possible to streamline the exchange of information in a manner that is mutually beneficial and economical. 

Informal discovery typically happens by letter, or by meeting in person, or both.  The person providing information furnishes sufficient detail and supporting documentation in a manner that obviates sworn testimony at a deposition.  The person on the receiving end, in following up and requesting additional detail or additional documentation, often does not need a great deal of the information that would be part of the formal discovery process.  The exchange of information is tailored to the specific claims and relevant circumstances of the case, instead of the "fishing expedition" that the formal discovery process is characterized as by many lawyers and judges.

SOURCE FOR POST: Minnesota Divorce and Family Law Blog and Divorce Help Network

Related Posts:

Discovering Hidden Assets

Michael Sherman of the Alabama Family Law Blog has the following post today:

Dreamstime_3067742In your divorce case, you may hear your lawyer talk about the "discovery process."  Discovery is essentially the legal process by which lawyers can obtain information necessary for your case (such as assets, debts, income, and other factual information).  This often will involve written requests to your spouse to produce certain documents, a request for them to file written answers to the lawyer’s written questions (called interrogatories), subpoenas for documents from banks, credit card companies, etc.

Often lawyers will use multiple methods of discovery in an effort to obtain complete information.  I have had clients ask me not to pursue discovery for fear of the costs that would be incurred.  This is often short sighted.  An example from a recent case I had is instructive.


Use of Other Professionals in Family Law Cases

Istock_000003425803small Experienced family law attorneys know that it is sometimes necessary or desirable to hire other professionals to assist with particular issues in domestic cases.  Of course, the types of professionals  and tasks to be performed will vary, depending on the issues involved in each specific case.  Other professionals commonly used include:

  • The professionals most commonly used in Family Court cases are private investigators.  Not only can these professionals be very helpful in obtaining information about a spouse’s misconduct, they can also help with many other types of issues, such as child custody and visitation cases.
  • Mental health counselors are also helpful in many cases. These professionals can include psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed social workers, and custody evaluators.  Their services provided range widely and include psychological evaluations, anger management, conflict resolution, child counseling, domestic violence, and parenting issues.
  • If parties cannot agree on the value of an asset, it may be necessary to hire an appraiser. Typically, the first type of appraiser that comes to mind is a real estate appraiser. However, there are also professional appraisers who can value anything from antiques, equipment, furniture, or collections to retirement accounts.
  • Accountants are used in many Family Court cases when difficult financial issues arise. The most common areas in which an accountant can be beneficial are (a) determining the income of a self-employed individual, (b) valuing a retirement account, and (c) determining the value of a business entity.

If any of these issues arise in your family law case, your attorney will generally be able to refer you to a qualified professional.  Our firm, like most attorneys, strive to do everything we can to ensure that our clients receive excellent service, not only from us, but also from the other professionals with whom we work.

SOURCE: South Carolina Family Law Blog