In Michigan, when child support or spousal support (alimony) is calculated, it is important to prove your spouse’s income to receive a fair child support or spousal support contribution. Oftentimes, people are afraid to start a divorce because they fear they will be unable to support themselves and/or their children, so it is very important to understand what your rights are in Michigan before starting the divorce process. Even if you do not know how much your spouse earns or what your spouse’s assets are, attorneys can require them to produce that information through the divorce process.
What is Income?
Generally, courts consider income to include wages, income from a business, income from rental properties and income from investments. In all cases in Michigan, attorneys can issue discovery requests, like interrogatories or subpoenas, to obtain financial records like personal income tax returns, mortgage statements, property tax records, pay stubs, account statements, income and expense declarations and schedules of assets and debts to determine what each party’s income is.
What if my Spouse Lies About Income?
Sometimes, parties in a divorce process attempt to mislead the court and incorrectly report their income in an attempt to reduce the amount of child support or spousal support they will have to pay. In these cases, attorneys oftentimes subpoena credit card records and bank accounts. The purpose for obtaining those records is to find out how much a party is spending per month in expenses. If your spouse spends more than he/she earns any given month, there may be an indication that they are being untruthful with their income. Attorneys can also look at the lifestyle your spouse leads to determine what they’re spending. We calculate how much your spouse is paying on their mortgage or rent, car payments, vacations, entertainment and eating out and other expenses to determine whether that amount is higher than was reported to the court.
My Spouse is Self-Employed. How do I Prove Income?
When spouses are self-employed, it can be more difficult to prove their income, as it is easier for them to hide income by claiming high expenses. In these cases, attorneys in Michigan subpoena financial statements and the business’ tax returns for past years to look for any unusual changes in expenses and income. A sudden drop in the business’ income or additional expenses right around the time that the child support or spousal support issue arose could indicate the business owner is fabricating income and expenses. In these types of situations, a more in depth and thorough review of the business’ past behavior and current behavior would be warranted, and a Michigan attorney would request a hearing to demand that the spouse submit proof as to the business’ operations. The court would then make a determination as to whether the spouse’s explanations are valid. An example of how a business owner might claim to lose money is by investing in real estate or other assets. In this situation, the court is not failing, but rather growing. A court here could conclude that the spouse’s income is actually higher than reported and adjust the child support or spousal support accordingly.
In dealing with a spouse who is trying to hide income, you must look for inconsistencies and gather as much financial documentation as possible. Where a court believes a person is hiding income or misrepresenting income, a court has the authority to order child support or spousal support in a higher amount if appropriate.
Free Consultation with a Child Support Attorney and Spousal Support Attorney in Michigan
If you have questions regarding child support or spousal support or would like a free consultation with a child support or spousal support attorney in Michigan, call the Divorce Attorneys of Michigan at (248) 785-3634.