How to Prove Income When Your Spouse is Self-Employed
In the current US economy, the traditional employer/employee model is increasingly less common. More and more, individuals are working on a freelance basis, participants in the so-called “gig” economy. This can pose a challenge during a divorce. When your spouse has a salaried position with a single employer, income information is typically centralized on a single W-2, or easily shown through pay stubs. However, if an individual owns their own business or works for numerous employers on an independent basis, not only might it be difficult to gather all income information, but income alone wouldn’t accurately reflect the complete costs of running a business or other deductible expenses that would have an impact on your spouse’s finances.
Since your ex’s income will have a huge impact on your divorce, from asset division to whether or not they’re eligible to pay or receive spousal support, it’s important that you feel confident that the amount of income your spouse has presented to the court is accurate. If you’re concerned that it isn’t, there are approaches you can use to prove the amount that your spouse is actually earning while self-employed.
Make use of the discovery process
Every spouse is required to complete a financial disclosure form that details all their income and assets to the court. If the disclosure does not appear to you to be accurate, your attorney can help ensure that the court knows just how much they’re earning by requesting that your spouse produce financial documents through discovery. Making a request through the discovery process will create a legal duty for your spouse to produce relevant documents, at the risk of incurring financial penalties for failing to turn over those documents. You can help your attorney make effective requests by letting her know what financial institutions your spouse used, and what sorts of accounts (business charge account, savings account) your spouse did not disclose to the court. Specific discovery requests are often more successful.
Use lifestyle evidence
If you’re still in contact with your ex or their friends, you may be aware of recent trips they’ve taken or purchases they’ve made that would not have been affordable on the amount of income they reported to the court. If you have evidence of these transactions, such as photos from social media accounts, then you can produce them to the court as evidence that your spouse’s prior disclosures are lacking.