During a divorce, one of the biggest issues that needs to be resolved is distribution of the spouses’ marital assets. Under Florida law, marital assets are divided, “under the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all of the relevant factors.” This means that, unless there is a specific reason that one spouse should get more than the other, marital assets should generally be divided half-and-half in a Florida divorce.
But, regardless of whether a couple’s circumstances call for an equal distribution or some other alternative, the key to effecting an appropriate distribution will be to identify all of the assets to be distributed. If one or both spouses have unreported income, this can often be a challenge.
What do We Mean By “Unreported Income”?
When we refer to “unreported income,” what we mean is income that has not been reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on your annual tax returns. All income needs to be reported to the IRS, whether in the form of cash, check, or direct deposit, and whether received through employment or a privately-owned business. This includes wages, salary, tips, and payments for goods sold and services rendered.
Challenges Created by Unreported Income
Unreported income can create a number of challenges during a Florida divorce. For one, if your divorce goes to court, the fact that you or your spouse retained unreported income may become public record. While all income should be reported regardless of whether or not it is exposed through the courts, there are options available, and public disclosure is not necessarily the best one.
For another, as we alluded to above, unreported income can create issues when it comes to the equitable distribution of marital assets. If you do not know how much money your spouse has, you simply will not know whether you are receiving your fair share. The same goes for child support and alimony: If you do not know your spouse’s true income, you will not be able to clearly and fairly establish support obligations going forward.
How to Address Unreported Income in Your Divorce
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to address the issues related to unreported income in a divorce. These include hiring a forensic accountant and examining your family’s savings and spending to determine the amount of income needed to support your lifestyle. If you are concerned that your spouse is hiding income, there are ways to investigate this as well.
Contact Beller & Bustamante, P.L. about Your Florida Divorce
At Beller & Bustamante, P.L., we provide compassionate, experienced legal representation for individuals going through divorce in the greater Jacksonville area, including Clay, Duval, Putnam, and St. Johns Counties. If you would like to discuss your situation in confidence with one of our attorneys, call (904) 288-4414 or schedule a consultation online today.