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May 06, 2024 From the Chair

Useful Tools for Your Law Practice

Brian M. Karpf

I am confident that this month’s issue of Family Advocate will be a useful tool for your everyday practice as the topic is one central to all of our cases. Because income is not always easily definable or traceable, it warrants a special level of attention. Income helps to determine the alimony and child support that our clients are entitled to, or conversely, that our clients are obligated to pay. By implementing purposeful conversations with our clients, strategic approaches to discovery, and careful analysis, dealing with complicated income-related issues can become more manageable.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines “income” as “[t]he money or other form of payment that one receives, usu. periodically, from employment, business, investments, royalties, gifts, and the like.” However, there are also additional definitions for all of the varying forms and types of income, such as “accumulated taxable income,” “deferred income,” “distributable net income,” and “passive investment income,” to name a few. Knowing which type(s) of income are relevant in any given situation is dependent on the context. However, being able to distinguish between the various types of income, and when to apply them, is critical.

Dealing with income can prove to be a real challenge, especially when navigating high-net-worth, complex family law matters. Unfortunately, our clients are not always the most forthcoming in revealing their sources of income, and the opposing party often creates countless roadblocks when attempting to discover theirs. In my experience, taking the time to sit down with our clients to explain the intricate nature of the discovery process, line by line, can help to avoid common complications related to income as the case develops. In addition, the efficient and thoughtful use of discovery tools such as requests for production, requests for admissions, interrogatories, and depositions can also help streamline the process.

Furthermore, discovering and calculating self-employment income can also serve as another unique challenge because it is so easily manipulated. When an individual manages their own funds, there are likely no paystubs available for accounting purposes. It can also be difficult to distinguish between business expenses and personal expenses when dealing with self-employed individuals. Accordingly, an expert in this field, typically a forensic accountant, can be a crucial component to your case to help keep track of all the numbers. While it can be quite costly, it is important to know when to hire an expert to assist in your investigation.

Lastly, I look forward to seeing you all at the upcoming ABA Family Law Conference in Boston from May 1–4, which is going to be full of innovative and informative CLE sessions as well as amazing social events. It will be an incredible opportunity to learn about the latest advancements in our field and to network with our esteemed colleagues from near and far. I am especially excited for Wednesday’s ART (assisted reproductive technology) program, the Red Sox game on Thursday afternoon, and the Charley Kindregan Luncheon on Friday!

And be sure to save the date for our Fall 2024 CLE Conference September 25–28 at the Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, California, for more great programmiing and networking events.

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.

Brian M. Karpf

Young Berman Karpf & Karpf P.A.

Brian M. Karpf is the Chair of the ABA Family Law Section and a partner with Young Berman Karpf & Karpf P.A. He is a Florida Bar Board Certified divorce and family law lawyer and mediator and fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers.