April 19, 2014

How To Find Out Former Spouse’s Current Income Economically

This week’s question:

I went through a bitter divorce a few years ago. My ex-husband was ordered to pay me monthly spousal support and child support for my three children, who are now 16, 14, and 13. I have physical custody of them and my ex-husband has visitation rights. The time share is about 80-20. My problem is that I do not know how much he makes now. His compensation might be much greater now or it may be about the same. How can I find out what his compensation is at present without spending another small fortune in legal fees?

/s/Jill J.

Almaden Valley

Dear Jill-

You have emailed in a very good question, Jill. I would hazard a guess that you are not alone in this predicament. The cost of living here in the Almaden Valley is significant and I’m sure your expenses have increased dramatically over the years.

What you might want to look into is filling out a relatively simple court form called “Request for Production of an Income and Expense Declaration After Judgment.” If there is a pending support order, this form once completed and delivered to the ex-spouse should result in some information produced for you.

The form is “served” properly on the ex-spouse, and it states that the party is required to complete and return a current Income and Expense Declaration within 30 days after the date the request is delivered to the other party.

The form also states that the responding party needs to attach copies of his or her most recent state and federal income tax returns, whether individual or joint. The Income and Expense Declaration form requires the person supply extensive information about his or her finances, including copies of the previous two months’ pay stubs, income for the previous 12 months, as well as an estimated value of all accounts and other assets.

When the information and documentation is provided to the party who made the request, he or she can then determine whether to ask for a modification of child, spousal, or family support.

Each party to the family law case may use this procedure once a year after judgment even though no legal matter is pending. If the procedure is used properly, one can receive a lot of useful information about the other party’s current financial situation at a very reasonable cost. An attorney may assist you or you may do the work without legal counsel.

So, what if the other party ignores the Request for Production of an Income and Expense Declaration? The California Family Code provides that the party may then serve the other party’s employer with a “Request for Income and Benefit Information From Employer”.

The form that is submitted to the employer is sent either because there was no response by the employee within 35 days or the response was incomplete as to the wage information. It also calls for the present employment status of the employee, gross salary for the previous month, previous 12 months, including commissions, bonuses, and overtime. The form also provides for a breakdown of state and federal income tax withheld, Social Security and Medicare Tax as well as other deductions.

The employer is also asked to provide information about the employee’s health, life, and vision insurance as well as use of company assets, such as vehicle, housing, health clubs and other information. The form also provides for the employer to attach the last three most recent pay stubs.

You can learn more about this procedure by going to your favorite online search engine and entering California Family Code

§§ 3664-3667. As always, you will want to read this information in consultation with your attorney to see how this may apply or not apply to your specific situation.

Best wishes, Jill. I hope you find the information you need and that the entire matter is resolved.

/s/Donald J. DeVries

Almaden Valley

Donald J. DeVries is an attorney practicing law in the Almaden Valley. Past Almaden Times articles since 1986 can be accessed through his web site: www.almadenvalleylawers.com . If you would like him to answer your question in his next Almaden Times column, you can reach him by email at don@almadenvalleylawyers.com, with “Almaden Times” in the subject line, fax at (408)268-6502, telephone at (408)268-9500, or mail at DeVries & Horowitz, 6475 Camden Avenue, Suite 200, San Jose, CA 95120. Your matters are personal and private, so of course, he will not disclose your identity or any details about your situation. Mr. DeVries writes this column to provide you with general information about important legal matters affecting California residents-not to give you legal advice about your specific matter. No attorney-client relationship is created by these articles. The law is complex and constantly changing and varies from state to state. So you should consult an attorney before taking any action that would affect your personal or business matters.