It’s essential to know where you’ve been in order for you to get where you want to go.
In essence, a Lifestyle Analysis establishes what your standard of living was during the marriage. It reconstructs:
- the day-to-day living expenses incurred during your marriage
- the spending habits of both you and your husband. Generally, a Lifestyle Analysis has an emphasis on the last several years of your marriage, and it usually includes, but is not limited to, an analysis of:
- All financial statements (bank, brokerage, credit cards, etc.)
- Personal and business income tax returns
- Recurring and ordinary expenses within each category of expense (clothing, food, housing, entertainment, travel, etc.)
- Unusual, non-recurring and/or seasonal expenses
- Credit reports
- Any discrepancies
- A realistic estimate of future family expenses, like college or boarding school for your children
At first, compiling the data needed for a Lifestyle Analysis might seem like a laborious, time-consuming chore. But working side-by-side with your forensic CPA, it’s likely you will discover all sorts of regular expenses (and income) that you neglected to consider –and that information is essential as you plan for your future as a single woman.
What’s more, a Lifestyle Analysis can also prove an incredibly valuable tool for uncovering assets your spous is trying to hide from you and/or any dissipation of marital assets he’d rather you didn’t know (like when he took his girlfriend to Hawaii). In other words . . .
A Lifestyle Analysis keeps your husband honest. Any comprehensive investigation of spending habits and day-to-day living expenses is bound to reveal a few surprises here or there. However, in some cases, the details uncovered by a Lifestyle Analysis can be even more shocking. In fact, sometimes, when we are preparing a Lifestyle Analysis for a client, we find non-recurring or occasional expenses that take her totally by surprise. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual during this process to discover a husband has been pursuing some kind of nefarious activity, such as selling marital assets, concealing income, collecting art, or even supporting an extramarital relationship completely unbeknownst to his wife.
Once revealed through the analysis, this dissipation of assets can be taken into consideration when the judge determines the amount of your divorce settlement agreement and any alimony ordered.