We are excited to welcome family law attorney Julie Caputo to the Goldberg Jones team. Julie is an experienced family law attorney having practiced in Colorado and Washington. Her sharp legal and communication skills will be invaluable to husbands and fathers facing family law issues in Seattle and the surrounding communities.
Julie has been practicing law for more than 19 years and she is well versed in complex divorce issues. She has built a solid reputation for her ability to handle everything from international child custody disputes to high conflict divorces.
Using a balanced approach, Julie is dedicated to resolving disputes and producing meaningful results for her clients. She is an agile attorney that is equally comfortable at the negotiating table as she is at trial. Julie has certainly earned her reputation as a respected advocate for men facing complex family law issues.
Managing partner Rick Jones commented on the addition of Caputo saying, “Julie is an exceptional family law attorney. She is tenacious, solution oriented, and knows how to produce results. Her experience with complicated cases and multi-jurisdiction custody issues will be a valuable asset to our clients.”
Julie is experienced in Collaborative Law, is a trained mediator, and is licensed to practice law in Washington State and Colorado. Additionally, she has served as the co-chair of the Boulder County Bar Family Law Section and is a member of the BDIC.
When she isn’t in court or in the office, Julie can be found enjoying music, kayaking, and traveling.
If divorce is on the horizon, getting your proverbial ducks in a row is important—particularly when it comes to your finances. It isn’t uncommon for spouses to try and hide assets when a divorce is imminent. Knowing the red flags that might indicate your wife is hiding money can help you protect your rights and your financial future.
The eight signs listed below are not definitive proof that your wife is concealing assets, but they can indicate that further investigation into her finances is prudent.
1. Self employment
Being a business owner in and of itself isn’t a warning sign of hidden assets. However, if your wife owns her own business there are more opportunities for creative concealment of money. Be wary of drastic changes in reported income and unexpected increases in operating costs. Purposefully “running a business into the ground” or not letting you look at the business’ financial documents can signal something is amiss. If you or your wife own a business, speak with a family law attorney or accountant (or both) before filing for divorce.
2. Income/lifestyle discrepancy
If your soon to be ex-wife is living large, yet reporting an income that puts her below the poverty line, this can indicate that there is something awry with the income she is reporting. Additionally, a change in how much or how often your spouse is willing to contribute to family expenses can be a warning sign that your wife if hiding assets.
3. A change in deposit/withdrawal activity
If the deposit and/or withdrawal activity suddenly changes after years of predictability, it might be time to investigate where the money is going. It isn’t uncommon for spouses make cash withdrawal or to start diverting money into new accounts when a divorce is inevitable.
Cash transactions can be more difficult to track, making them an attractive avenue for people trying to hide money. After cash has been withdrawn from an account it can be moved to a variety of places where it can be held until after the divorce is final.
4. She is overly assertive about signatures on financial documents
If your wife suddenly becomes aggressive about having you sign important financial documents and pressures you to act quickly with financial decisions, she may be trying to hide something from you. This can encompass everything from wanting to be added to property via title or asking you to sign quit claims that release interest in title or accounts. It is always important to take the time to read and understand any financial documents that are presented to you—and when divorce is on the horizon it become imperative. Take as much time as is required to thoroughly evaluate the consequences of signing any financial or legal documents.
5. She is secretive about finances
Is your wife secretive about finances? Does she get dodgy when you ask her about bills, expenses, or her spending? This may be a red flag that she is trying to hide money or financial information. It is important to pay close attention to credit card statements and credit reports before, during, and after a divorce. It isn’t uncommon for spouses to max-out lines of credit or open new credit accounts in an attempt to accumulate clothes, jewelry, etc. and have the other spouse required to pay for some or all of that debt.
6. Sudden change in the profitability of her business
If your wife’s business has been profitable and then all of a sudden she is reporting record losses and skyrocketing costs, this might require a closer look. Overstating expenses and understating income are two common methods of making a business appear less profitable (and less valuable) than it actually is.
7. She starts gifting money or assets to family members or friends
Gifts of cash or assets may be an attempt to shield your wife from having to divide those assets during the divorce. If your wife is gifting money or property to friends or family well before the divorce has been filed, it may be difficult to have those assets or money included in the division of marital assets.
It can be particularly challenging if your wife is sending money to family overseas. Money held in offshore accounts can be particularly difficult to locate and even harder to recover. If you suspect that your wife is trying to hide assets in an offshore account, you may need to hire a detective that specializes in financial fraud.
8. Emails or financial statements from an unfamiliar financial institution
If bank statements and other financial documents start arriving from a financial institution that you don’t have an account with, take note. Your wife may have opened a new account in an attempt to move money from a joint account to an account that you cannot access.
If you suspect your wife is trying to hide money or assets, speak with your attorney. Your situation may require additional discovery and a forensic accountant may be necessary. A forensic accountant will work to trace, locate, and accurately value the marital assets to ensure an equitable division in the divorce.Disclaimer – The materials posted in this blog are for informational purposes only. The information presented is general in nature, and may not apply to particular factual or legal circumstances. The information presented here does not constitute legal advice or opinions and should not be relied upon as such.
Washington is a community property state
There are two approaches to dividing marital assets in a divorce: equitable distribution and community property. Equitable distribution is used in 41 of the 50 states, making it more common than community property.
Equitable distribution provides judges more discretion and flexibility in dividing assets (and debts). Equitable distribution will take into consideration the financial situation of each of the spouses and then create a settlement that is equitable to both parties.
Washington State is one of the 9 states that use community property instead of equitable distribution. Community property will treat all marital assets as joint property even if the property was acquired only in one spouse’s name. For a spouse to have property that was acquired during the marriage excluded from being considered community property, the item must be acquired solely in one spouse's name and purchased (and maintained) with money that is held separately from the other spouse and is not used to contribute to the marital expenses.
There is a waiting period for divorce in Washington
If you have made the decision to divorce, chances are you want to expedite the process. There are definitely things you can do to speed up the finalization of your divorce, but there is one process that can’t be avoided—the waiting period.
In Washington State there is a mandatory 90 day waiting period from the time your divorce paperwork has been filed until your divorce is finalized. Your divorce may take longer than three months to complete if there are contested issues.
Negotiating parenting plans, division of assets, and spousal support can all slow down your divorce, but it is important to negotiate the most favorable terms now because modifications down the road may be difficult (and in some instances not an option) and expensive.
Post-secondary support is financial support provided to your children to help them cover the expense of obtaining education beyond the high school level. In Washington State child support is paid until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever occurs later. The post-secondary support is additional support that is negotiated into the support order to pay for accredited education.
There are a number of factors that are considered by the courts when deciding to award post-secondary support. Things like the child’s needs, prospects, and aptitude, as well as the parent’s resources, expectations, and level of education are all used to evaluate the inclusion of post-secondary support. RCW 26.19.090 states:
“When considering whether to order support for postsecondary educational expenses, the court shall determine whether the child is in fact dependent and is relying upon the parents for the reasonable necessities of life. The court shall exercise its discretion when determining whether and for how long to award postsecondary educational support based upon consideration of factors that include but are not limited to the following: Age of the child; the child's needs; the expectations of the parties for their children when the parents were together; the child's prospects, desires, aptitudes, abilities or disabilities; the nature of the postsecondary education sought; and the parents' level of education, standard of living, and current and future resources. Also to be considered are the amount and type of support that the child would have been afforded if the parents had stayed together.”
The choices you make now will affect you 5, 10 and even 20 years from now
For many men going through a divorce, they just want to get it over with. Unfortunately rushing through the divorce process can have long lasting effects. Once the ink dries on your divorce agreement you are going to have to live with those decisions.
Divorce is an inherently emotional process, it is important to stay focused on making smart, logical decisions that will protect your assets for a long time. Choosing your battles wisely will save you money and headaches and try to be realistic about what your financial situation will be after the divorce. If you can’t afford to maintain your house, boat, vacation property, etc. post divorce, don’t fight for that asset just to spite your ex.
Additionally, how your retirement funds are divided can have a major impact on when and if you retire. It will also affect your standard of living once you are retired. Speak to your attorney to understand what your options are and how you can protect your retirement.
Debt will be divided in your divorce
In a divorce, your debt will be divided just like your assets. Debt accrued during the marriage, and even some debt that was brought into the marriage can be divided between the spouses. Unfortunately dividing debt in a divorce doesn’t always mean you won’t be required to pay down the road. If your ex-wife defaults on debt that was assigned to her, you can still be held responsible for repaying that creditor. It is imperative that you speak with your attorney to discuss all your options and your liability for marital debt.
The best way to prepare for divorce is to arm yourself with information and the right advocate. The more you know the easier it will be to make the right decisions for your unique circumstances. Having the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney will be an invaluable asset through the divorce process.
Darren DeFrance is the newest addition to the Goldberg Jones team of Seattle divorce attorneys. We are excited to welcome Darren to our Seattle office.
With a wide breadth of experience, Darren will be a valuable asset to our clients. Having worked as a prosecutor, Darren has hands on experience navigating jury trials, dealing with issues regarding harassment, stalking and other criminal charges, as well as other issues that can arise in family law cases.
Darren’s desire to help men facing divorce stems from the personal experience of watching someone close to him go through a challenging divorce. He witnessed firsthand both the arduous divorce process and the long lasting effects of decisions made during divorce. This experience compelled Darren to become an advocate and resource for men facing family law issues.
His approach to practicing family law hinges on communication. Darren understands the importance of listening to his clients and educating them on how their personal circumstances will affect their case. Darren staunchly believes that every case is unique and it is imperative to be aggressive, but remain empathetic to his clients.
Our managing attorney Ken Alan, commented on Darren joining the team saying, “Darren is dedicated to aggressively pursuing justice and he has a sharp legal mind. His experience as a prosecutor definitely adds a unique perspective and skill set that will be invaluable to our clients.”
DeFrance earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. He completed his undergraduate education from the University of California, Davis where earned both a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
When Darren isn’t in the office or the courtroom, he can be found exploring the great outdoors or enjoying almost any sport. He also enjoys reading —particularly historical biographies.
There was no shortage of divorce questions for Rick when he stopped by KZOK last week. And Danny and Rick didn’t waste any time getting straight to the callers' questions.
The first caller wanted to know how he could get his property back. The caller was still in the process of dissolving his marriage and had gone through arbitration to divide some of the marital assets. Unfortunately for the caller, he has been unable to procure the property awarded during the arbitration.
Rick informed the caller that because he has an arbitration award and the divorce isn’t final, the court still has a say in the situation—good news for the caller. Rick went on to outline the steps the caller will need to take to enforce the arbitration award and advised the caller to make sure the divorce is finalized.
The next caller needed advice on fixing the damage her ex had done to her credit. The caller discovered that her ex’s debts were on her credit report when she tried to get a line of credit. The caller disputed the debts with the credit bureau, but they refused to remove them from her report. The caller’s divorce papers assigned her ex liability for both personal and business debt. Her question for Rick: “How do I get my ex’s debt off my credit report?”
Rick explained to the caller that the time frame in which the debt was incurred will affect her ability to have the credit blemishes removed from her credit report. Because the caller was unsure if all the debt was incurred during the marriage or after the divorce, Rick provide two answers.
If the debt was created after the divorce, Rick recommended providing the creditors with a divorce decree. This will demonstrate that the marriage is dissolved and the couple is no longer a community. If the caller didn’t co-sign for any of the debt, then the creditors are more likely to work with her assuming the debt was indeed created after the divorce.
Unfortunately, if the debt was created while the couple was still married the caller will be burdened with the debt. Even if the divorce decree assigns the debt to her ex, that agreement won’t affect the creditors ability to seek repayment from her. Rick advised the caller that if the only way to clear up her credit is to pay off the balances, then she will have to bear that expense. After the debt has been paid off, the caller can take her ex to court to seek compensation for the expense of paying off his debt.
Listen to all of Rick’s advice in the clip below. If you have questions about divorce, custody, or any other family law issues, get answers by calling (206) 448-1010. Speaking with our managing attorney, Ken Alan, over the phone is always free and there is no obligation. Or if you prefer email, you can reach Ken directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org