When tracing to claim refund of separate property is difficult or impossible, how much can a personal testimony help in the SOC?

We are going through a divorce in CA. Since records older than 7 years are discarded by financial institutions and i did not keep the statements either, tracing is becoming difficult if not impossible. How much will the court rely on the personal testimony of the party claiming the refund? The existence of substantial separate property is quite obvious. The only problem is with tracing. Are there any other alternatives to claim separate property in such cases?

San Jose, CA -

Attorney Answers (5)

Daniel Seth Williams

Daniel Seth Williams

Divorce / Separation Lawyer - Pacific Grove, CA
Answered

Do a cost benefit analysis and see if you can get a forensic accountant to be appointed and the Court to order the costs be split. I work in San Jose area and have extensive experience with this. If you would like to make an appointment with my office, please visit my Avvo profile and I would be happy to schedule one. You may also consider if not hiring the accountant, getting one as a consultant to assist you in the tracing. I do it all the time.

Attorney Williams practices FAMILY LAW throughout the State of California and may be reached at (831) 233-3558 and... more
Donald Frederick Conviser

Donald Frederick Conviser

Divorce / Separation Lawyer - Woodland Hills, CA
Answered

Accord with both prior responses. You could propound discovery, including Requests for Admission of Truth of Facts and Special Interrogatgories, the responses to which could be admitted into evidence at trial. You would best retain an experienced Family Law Attorney if you are not now represented.

Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, as each situation is... more
David Alexander Yomtov

David Alexander Yomtov

Family Law Attorney - San Jose, CA
Answered

In a trial, the court would likely require documentary evidence, and an expert witness (forensic accountant, in this case) would be the best way to introduce the evidence into the record.

In the absence of documentary evidence, you have an uphill battle ahead of you. The judge could look to your credibility, but this only goes so far, in my experience. Documents really do rule.

I like Mr. Conviser's idea regarding a Request for Admissions. This is a formal form of the discovery process.

At an SOC the format is much more free-wheeling, and is more akin to mediation. You might be able to convince the Settlement Officer of your claims. But if you can't convince your spouse, then it goes nowhere, since the Settlement Officer has no judicial authority beyond affirming any agreements that you might make.

Consider hiring counsel to assist you.

Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to... more
Shawn Michael Haggerty

Shawn Michael Haggerty

Family Law Attorney - Hacienda Heights, CA
Answered

Tracing is difficult and expensive. Claim and acknowledge by stipu;ation.

John Noah Kitta

John Noah Kitta

Divorce / Separation Lawyer - Fremont, CA
Answered

While I agree with previous counsel Mr. Williams’ suggestion of hiring a forensic expert, if you have the financial resources, this would be the best way to go. Otherwise, if you say it’s very obvious about the existence of separate property, you need to bring in as many witnesses as possible to trial to testify that they have personal knowledge of where, how, and when you received the separate property and how you maintained the identity of the separate property during and throughout the marriage.

This participating Attorney does not warrant any information provided, nor are we creating an Attorney-Client... more

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