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Advice for those whose partners are self-employed

When a spouse works for himself or herself, partners can be less than fully informed about the value of the business and the amount available for division in the event of a divorce in Missouri. While property division can be difficult in any divorce, it is likely to be complicated if one of the partners owns a business where money can be hidden relatively easily.

For example, calculations of child support and alimony can be complicated if a spouse's income varies from month to month. Most child support or alimony orders are predicated on a standard of income that remains relatively constant, but when a person is self-employed, income can be highly variable, making it hard to calculate an exact sum. This problem is even more difficult to solve if the spouse in question is hiding cash.

One way for a spouse to avoid this problem is to know as much about the business as possible. Of course, this is a step that must be taken prior to the divorce; after a separation, it is not likely that the business owner will share information about cash assets or other untraceable sources of income. Another possibility is for a divorcing spouse to share information with a divorce attorney about unexplained spending made prior to the separation. In many cases, this type of spending, such as the purchase of luxury items like boats or cars, can be linked to cash income.

A divorce attorney can work with a spouse who must obtain information on a partner who may be hiding cash. An experienced lawyer will utilize the services of experts who can analyze the spouse's business assets to determine the amount that may be available for property division.

Source: Forbes, "What A Divorcing Woman Needs To Know About Her Husband's Cash-Based Business," Jeff Landers, Jan. 30, 2013

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