Proper recordkeeping is a must when it comes to preparing tax returns, but it’s not the only place where good recordkeeping can be incredibly valuable. Divorce is another legal area where the difference between success and failure could be your good records, or a lack thereof. Good records may be the critical evidence you need to substantiate your position. On the flip side, if your spouse is making a financial argument that isn’t supported by appropriate documentation, you may, with the help of a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer, be able to use that lack of paperwork to defeat their argument.
You can see that in action in a recent divorce case from Montgomery County.
The husband married his wife in Bangladesh in 2011 and brought her to the United States, where he’d lived since 1998. In 2019, the couple split up and, a year later, the wife filed for divorce. At the time that the wife filed for divorce, the husband had nearly $219,000 in a Bank of America account. Four weeks later, that account balance was just under $11,000.
That bank account was one of the centerpieces of the divorce litigation. The wife alleged that the B of A account was a marital asset and that the husband had dissipated that asset to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A key part of that dispute was an $85,000 sum that went into and out of the B of A account during the marriage. According to the husband, that $85,000 sum represented the proceeds from the sale of a home in Hyattsville that belonged to the husband’s brother. In other words, the $85,000 was the brother’s property and not a marital asset.
The trial court ruled against the husband and ordered him to pay the wife a monetary award of $134,500, with the disputed $85,000 representing a component of that $134,500 sum.
A Lack of Consistency + No Documentation = No Credibility
The Court of Special Appeals later upheld that ruling. The husband lost because he had neither of the two things that are often crucial to winning an argument like this: consistent and credible witness testimony or a clear “paper trail.”
The husband testified that the $85,000 related back to the sale of a home that his brother owned. However, he also testified on cross-examination that the $85,000 was compensation to him from his brother for the husband’s assistance in buying the Hyattsville home. The husband, at another point, gave testimony that “the payment resulted from the settlement of a lawsuit between Husband and brother in 2020” but then also stated on the stand “that his brother had been making the payments since 2016 or 2017.” All this inconsistency made it easier for the judge to find the husband’s testimony not credible.
Worse for the husband, he had no documentation to support his position. Had the husband produced a written ledger or an account book that displayed the transaction in black and white and mirrored the husband’s testimony, then the judge might have found him credible. But he didn’t, so the judge didn’t, and the husband ultimately lost his appeal regarding the monetary award.
Whether you have a spouse who is dissipating assets during your divorce or you are the one facing a claim of dissipation of assets, the right legal team can be vital to your future financial well-being. Look to the Maryland divorce attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC to provide you with the aggressive, thoughtful, and skillful representation you deserve. Contact us today at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.