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Self-employment = Special Scrutiny

The court has latitude in determining what the actual income of each party is, which is then used to calculate maintenance and support. If your spouse is self-employed, your lawyer may recommend obtaining an expert witness to verify actual income. In this scenario, it is almost always to your advantage to sustain the expense. Otherwise, it's virtually impossible to determine real earnings of your husband or wife. Self-employed individuals frequently use business funds to pay personal expenses. If that is so with your soon-to-be ex, then for purposes of determining maintenance and child support, his or her actual earnings may be higher than those reported on tax returns. Proving this can result in your being entitled to more maintenance or child support. The court will not accept such a claim without solid substantiation, which a financial professional's analysis would supply. Conversely, if you are self-employed, be prepared for an investigation of your finances. It is sometimes a better strategy to be more generous in negotiations, than to have your entire financial life dragged out in public before a judge. Only an experienced divorce lawyer can advise you properly, and negotiate on your behalf in these circumstances. 

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