If my husband has no papertrail becausehe has been paid under the table for years, will it be hard to get spousal support?

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If my husband has no papertrail becausehe has been paid under the table for years, will it be hard to get spousal support?

He is a carpenter and although he has not paid federal taxes in over 20 years, will it be hard to get support from him. He makes very good money but he has no bank account that I know of; he cashes his checks at a friend’s store. I also have a list of jobs he has done. He walked out on me 4 months ago, for another woman, and lives with her now. I am losing everything. He has supported me for years.

Asked on August 15, 2011 Michigan

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your situation.  Please do not feel that things are hopeless here. There are many ways to prove income in a matrimonial action.  But I really do worry for you on many fronts.  Mostly on the issue of filing a joint tax return that showed no income while you were living relatively okay.   I think that you need to speak with an attorney in your area as soon as you possibly can.  The attorney needs to advise you not only on the issue of the matters that are arising in your divorce but also on the tax issues that will pop up here.  Ask about the innocent spouse exception and see if it applies to you in any way. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to speak with an attorney about this matter before you do anything. First, as you correctly intuit, if you can't prove someone's income or assets, it is difficult--not impossible, but difficult--to get the proper level of support set. However, presented properly, this might work to your benefit; if you can show a high standard of living, for example, he may have to pay more than he "should" based on his income (e.g. if you and he were living beyond your means, the court may assume, if there's no other evidence, that that reflects his income). A family or divorce law attorney can help you understand what you may be able to get, how to prove or establish his income, etc.

However, second, EVERYONE has to pay federal taxes. If he has not paid them, he has violated the law and is subject to potentially enormous back taxes, interest, and penalties. If this comes to light, it's possibe the IRS would move against him and essentially take much of what might go to you. Also, depending on the circumstances, you could possibly be implicated in his tax evasion as well; you therefore need legal advice before doing anything. You should be able to get support; but it will be trickier, for many reasons, than in other cases. Also, if he has not paid taxes, he has not paid into the social security system, which will short change you when its time to retire. There is much you need to discuss.


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