Forensic Accountant

Irina Anissimova, CPA, CFF

Random Thoughts

This is a collection of occasional random facts, notes, unpolished personal opinions and obseravtions related to my work in divorce litigation. They are here not so much as useful information, but to provide food for thought and an opportunity to look at the divorce process from different angles and multiple points of view. 

Divorce is a complex process and a drastic change in lives of all its participants. It has long lasting repercussions in peoples' lives which should be considered at the start (but usually are not). 

You can also find an expanded and illustrated version of this blog at: https://www.facebook.com/DivorceCaliforniaStyle?ref=bookmarks

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New concepts

Posted on August 14, 2018 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

"We need a concept of a terminated marriage that doesn’t damn it—one that helps to create emotional coherence and narrative continuity. Ending a marriage goes beyond the signing of divorce papers. And divorce is not the end of a family; it’s a reorganization."

From: "The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity" By Esther Perel

Questioning a witness

Posted on August 1, 2018 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The All-or-Nothing Marriage

Posted on July 24, 2018 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

"In a cruel cultural twist, just as we have increasingly looked to our marriage to help us fulfill higher-level needs, we have decreasingly invested the time and energy required for the marriage to meet these expectations. According to one major study, the amount of time that childless Americans spent alone with their spouse declined from thirty-five to twenty-six hours per week from 1975 to 2003, with much of this decline resulting from an increase in hours spent at work. The decline for Americans with children at home was from thirteen to nine hours per week, with much of it resulting from an increase in time-intensive parenting."

From: "The All-or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work" By Eli J Finkel

From Esther Perel on infidelity

Posted on July 14, 2018 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

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Work vs. family

Posted on September 30, 2015 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (1)

" Mark Granovetter says that modern institutional networks are marked by “the strength of weak ties”, by which he partly means that fleeting forms of association are more useful to people than long-term connections, and partly that strong social ties like loyalty have ceased to be compelling.

 

Strong ties depend, by contrast, on long association. And more personally they depend on a willingness to make commitments to others.

 

Detachment and superficial cooperativeness are better armor for dealing with current realities than behavior based on values of loyalty and service. It is the time dimension of the new capitalism, rather than high-tech data transmission, global stock markets, or free trade, which most directly affects people’s emotional lives outside the workplace. Transposed to the family realm, “No long term” means keep moving, don’t commit yourself, and don’t sacrifice.

 

The children don’t see commitment practiced in the lives of their parents or their parents’ generation.  [The emphasis on teamwork and open discussion marks an enlightened, flexible workplace] Practiced at home, teamwork is destructive, marking an absence of authority and of firm guidance in raising children. 

 

Behavior which earns success or even just survival at work thus gives ... little to offer in the way of a parental role model. In fact, ... the problem is just the reverse: how can [parents] protect family relations from succumbing to the short-term behavior, the meeting mind-set, and above all the weakness of loyalty and commitment which mark the modern workplace?"

From THE CORROSION OF CHARACTER: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism/By Richard Sennett

 

Technological change

Posted on September 10, 2015 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I am working on separate property tracing, which presents an opportunity for bitching about unexpected negative impacts of technological changes on people's endeavours. Here is how it applies to tracing:

 

Separate property tracing employs "follow the money" strategy and its success depends on the availability of documents that show the cash flow. No documents, no tracing, no proof there was and still remains any separate property. Most people do not keep statements from their bank accounts for more than couple years - they see no need and have no space to do so.

Then what do my clients do when I ask them to find statements from half a dozen of their bank accounts (including closed ones) from 1994 through 2015? Predictably, they go to financial institutions and ask for those old statements.

 

Back in the day when banks kept records on paper it was possible to dig out 20 year old statements, because following the retention rules and disposing of everything older than 7 or 10 years required manual labor and adding more storage space was cheaper.

 

Financial institutions no longer keep documents on paper - everything is automated and digital. This is convenient, but this convenience comes at a price few people contemplate - there is always a possibility of a data breach and associated massive costs to the institution. The incentive with respect to old documents has been turned upside down - now it is safer and easier to destroy them as soon as the retention period expires.

 

This is not a good news for my tracing clients and I am starting to see some very troubling outcomes.

On child support - a comment

Posted on August 24, 2015 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Child support payors (mostly fathers in my experience) often defend their desire to decrease or eliminate payments arguing that the money is not spent on the children's needs alone. This is an erroneous line of reasoning at best and a disingenuous one at worst.

 

Yes, the payment may be higher than the combined expenses on children's food, clothes and entertainment. But spending on children does not end with these items. The biggest overlooked ingredient is housing cost.

 

A child needs a place to live and an opportunity to acquire at least some education. Housing costs in large part depend on the quality of the respective school district. They are also influenced by the prevailing income distribution in the area. In places like Silicon Valley where high salaries paid by hi-tech industry drive housing costs, lodging can easily consume more than 40% of one's income and there is no discount for single parents with children.

 

No, in most cases I see child support is NOT too high, it is more likely to be too low.

 

On child support - a quote

Posted on August 24, 2015 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)

"Child support is a continuing sore spot in most coparenting relationships, as mothers often feel - AND THE DATA SUBSTANTIATE - that child support is inadequate, and fathers often feel that they are contributing more than their fair share. ... Of the millions of women who are entitled to child support, fewer than half receive payments as ordered, about one third are paid a fraction of what they have been promised, and one fourth of the women get nothing. Wealthier men do not have a better record of child support. " Some men unilaterally cut child support when their ex-wifes begin to earn good salaries or marry well-to-do second husbands. Others reduce child support when they themselves remarry, especially if they acquire stepchildren or have more children with the second wife. "Not one father in our study voluntarily raised child support because his ex-wife was physically or psychologically not well."

From: Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a decade after divorce/By Judith Wallerstein & Sandra Blakeslee.

Payments towards support arrears

Posted on August 18, 2015 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)

 

From CA Code of Civil Procedure.

In plain English:

If a debtor is in arrears and pays some amount towards the satisfaction of the debt, in all situations except support arrears the amount of payment is first applied to accrued interest and then to the principal of the debt.

If the money is paid towards support arrears, it is first applied towards the principal and then to accrued interest.

In the first situation interest keeps accruing because when the payment is not sufficient to cover both interest and principal, there always remains some principal amount to accrue interest on.

In the second situation accrual of interest may stop because the principal is paid off, which freezes the debt. There is also a "technical" question of how to collect interest on the debt that has already been paid.

Legal interest rate is 10% (simple interest) which means that quite often after several years the amount of accrued interest becomes comparable to the principal of the debt.

Why is the law favoring deadbeat dads who do not want to support their children? Or were the legislators thinking about their own support arrears to their wives when they introduced this exception in 2009?

Original text:

Section 695.220.

Money received in satisfaction of a money judgment, except a money judgment for support, is to be credited as follows:

(a) The money is first to be credited against the amounts described in subdivision (b) of Section 685.050 that are collected by the levying officer.

(b) Any remaining money is next to be credited against any fee due the court pursuant to Section 6103.5 or 68511.3 of the Government Code, which are to be remitted to the court by the levying officer.

(c) Any remaining money is next to be credited against the accrued interest that remains unsatisfied.

(d) Any remaining money is to be credited against the principal amount of the judgment remaining unsatisfied. If the judgment is payable in installments, the remaining money is to be credited against the matured installments in the order in which they matured.

Section 695.221.

Satisfaction of a money judgment for support shall be credited as follows:

(a) The money shall first be credited against the current month's support.

(b) Any remaining money shall next be credited against the principal amount of the judgment remaining unsatisfied. If the judgment is payable in installments, the remaining money shall be credited against the matured installments in the order in which they matured.

(c) Any remaining money shall be credited against the accrued interest that remains unsatisfied.



Mid-life divorce

Posted on August 15, 2015 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

"For both men and women, marriage in middle or later life has an additional and very important function: it provides an internal buffer against the anxieties of aging, of being old and alone, and of facing the inevitability of death. It also provides external supports to cope with the increasing disabilities and infirmities of old age. When the struscture is removed, they are left feeling extremely vulnerable, and the external symptoms of physical deterioration are symbolic of internal conflict and emotional distress. Not everyone can be expected to reconstruct a happy life following divorce. Not everyone is possessed of the inner resources, or the youth and beauty, to attract external supports. The capacity to change is not a given and cannot be taken for granted."

From: Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a decade after divorce/By Judith Wallerstein & Sandra Blakeslee.


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