The answer to this question may is often challenging to answer and may costs you much trouble in determining during a child support action. Why? Often parties that are self employed are very strategic in how they produce income figures for child support cases. The self employed person is often not required to take weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly draws (i.e. paychecks)
Thus, it is important that in such circumstance, you request that the prior three years worth of business financial records be produced. This should include all tax returns, bank statements, and safe deposit boxes at a minimum.
Even after all this information is produced, it can be a daunting task trying to establish a monthly estimated monthly income figure for the self employed litigant. With this said, A.R.S. § 25-320.02 states that:
On request of either parent or on the court's own motion, before the court enters an order for child support pursuant to section A.R.S. 25-320, the court may order both parents to meet with a federally authorized tax practitioner if at least one of the parents is self-employed. The federally authorized tax practitioner shall review the accuracy of the self-employed parent's records and submit a written report to the court to help it determine the child support obligation.
Each parent may submit to the court the names of not more than two federally authorized tax practitioners. If the parents cannot agree on a federally authorized tax practitioner to conduct the review, the court shall make this choice from a list of names submitted by the parents.
The court shall determine which parent shall pay for the cost of the federally authorized tax practitioner or determine each parent's share of this cost.
Although there may be some costs associated with requesting an independent evaluation from a authorized tax practitioner, in my opinion it is well worth it to ensure accuracy of the income figures suggested by the self employed party.
Keep in mind this is put one of many options to protect your interests and assure you are receiving the correct amount(s) due to you from the self employed litigant. For more information on other options related to child support or for information on additional Arizona family law matters, contact the premier discount attorneys at Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC.
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