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Yearly Archives: 2010

We have distilled decades of experience at the intersection of law, business and finance into a suite of articles to help our clients make sense of business valuation, forensic accounting, and litigation support. Please visit our site regularly for our latest content.

  December is an exciting month for sports fans, particularly New York sports fans. The area’s football teams are both bidding for playoff berths; basketball and hockey fans are settling in with mixed feelings about their team’s early performance; and major league baseball’s “hot stove” league is a buzz with the potential of free agent signings. This year’s biggest baseball free agent star is pitcher Cliff Lee. And to no surprise the New York Yankees are among the few teams bidding for his affection. The Angels, Rangers, and Yankees have all reportedly “pitched” Cliff Lee and have offered him a king’s ransom to play for their team. Each of the three teams courting Mr. Lee has something different to offer. California has beautiful weather; Texas has no state income tax; and New York has an opportunity to earn millions of dollars above a baseball contract in endorsements and sponsorships. There is little doubt that in addition to his agent, family, and friends Mr. Lee is getting plenty of advice from a variety of marketing, legal, and tax professionals. Even though I have not been asked, I thought I would give my two cents to Mr. Lee’s quandary. Cliff, stay away from New York. It could be your financial ruin. Assume Cliff Lee signs with the Yankees for seven years at $25 million per year and contracts for an additional $5 million per year for marketing. It doesn’t take a forensic accountant to compute that during the next seven years he will earn $210 million.   But suppose Lee, A-Rod, and Jeter go out […]


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An Attorney's Guide To Divorce-Related Tax Issues

Posted in Divorce & Matrimony, on Nov 2010, By: Mark S. Gottlieb

There may be no glory in being a family law attorney these days, especially when it comes to dealing with the often challenging economic consequences in a divorce action. Clients may initially contact you with one issue related to their potential divorce, but often these concerns can quickly manifest as emotions and pressures begin to develop. Perhaps the questions attorneys resist the most or feel least comfortable in answering pertain to divorce-related tax matters. Many individuals, including those contemplating divorce, will be reaching out to you for answers to a variety of tax-related divorce questions. So, this may be the best time to revisit some of the questions you may be faced with. Here are ten divorce-related tax issues that all matrimonial and family law attorneys should know. 1.       Taxability of Assets Distributed Incident to Divorce In many instances one of the most disputed issues in a divorce is the distribution of the marital assets. This is commonly referred to as “equitable distribution” or “ED”. Under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 1041 (a), no gain or loss is recognized on the transfer (acquisition or distribution) incident to divorce provided such transfer occurs within one year after the divorce or related to the ending of the marriage. The ending of the marriage is defined pursuant to a divorce or separation agreement and occurs within six years after the date on which the marriage ended. Practice Tip: Often, one of the most significant marital assets is the marital residence and/or a business. The values […]


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The summer of 2010 may be remembered by many Family Law practitioners as the “Historic Summer of Legislation” that will forever change how matrimonial law is practiced in New York State. There have been five major changes of legislation; new laws that many in the legal community have strong views about.  These changes include significant financial implications. These five major bills address the following: Significant changes effectuating child support modification (Bill # A8952); effective October 13, 2010, “No-Fault” Divorce (Bill # A3890); effective October 12, 2010,  The new Counsel Fee Bill that addresses payment of attorneys’ fees (Bill # A4532) on behalf of the less monied spouse; effective October 12, 2010, New procedures for setting awards of temporary maintenance while a divorce is pending (Bill # S08390); effective October 12, 2010, and Limiting the grounds by which orders of protection may be denied, or applications for such orders may be dismissed; effective August 13, 2010. For those of you that have been following our blog throughout the summer, you are very much aware of how the legal community has been intensely interested in these and other changes. For instance, on our podcast Forensic Perspectives, we interviewed the Honorable Sondra Miller on the topic of No-Fault Divorce. In addition, I recently participated in a panel discussion with three prominent attorneys on New York State’s Current Legislation to Develop Maintenance/Alimony Guidelines. Additional information regarding these programs are available on our website. According to Governor David Paterson, in addition to bringing New York’s divorce laws into the […]


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Until this past summer, the idea that YouTube might turn a substantial profit at long last may have been as improbable as Jon Stewart friending Glenn Beck on Facebook. But a federal judge’s recent ruling in YouTube’s favor in the 3-year-long copyright dispute with Viacom, the owner of such profitable brands as Paramount, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, is a major victory in what some are calling a landmark copyright case.The much-discussed suit revolved around Viacom’s allegations that YouTube only became the Internet’s most viewed video site by posting copyright-protected clips “stolen” from its shows. But in evoking a law that shields Internet services from claims of copyright infringement as long as the illegal content is removed,the Court noted that YouTube had removed about 100,000 videos the day after Viacom sent a mass takedown notice. If the Court in this case had agreed with Viacom, and ordered Google to pay the more than $ 1 billion in business damages the media conglomerate was seeking, the impact on YouTube’s future profitability could have been considerable.For a media conglomerate such as Viacom, however, copyright infringement on a site that might attract well over a billion visitors a day, could translate into lost revenue from DVD sales and rentals, worldwide TV syndication, and paid online distribution of their content. When copyrighted content is readily available for free on YouTube, for example, the Court may take into account what profits, if any, would have been generated by Viacom if not for the alleged copyright infringement. But is this a case of lost profits or lost business for a media conglomerate–or perhaps both?In […]


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In a recent meeting with some of my colleagues in the legal community, the question came up: Why is the analysis of lost profits deferred until late in the litigation process? One colleague is of the opinion that often the financial issues associated with damages will sometimes take a back seat to liability issues because attorneys will frequently tend to focus on the legal procedures and on discovery procedures. But based on my 20+ years experience in forensic accounting, business valuation and expert testimony, early involvement by the financial expert is often crucial to an effective analysis in a lost profits case—and ensures that all aspects of the lost profits case are covered.Forensic experts are typically involved in complex commercial litigation where economic damages or lost profits are at issue. They’re also involved when a case requires forensic accounting skills such as in a fraud or embezzlement case or the value of a business is at issue such as in a shareholder dispute or marital dissolution. The forensic expert may also be called upon to explain an accounting, tax or financial issue to the judge or jury. Forensic experts often are also hired by attorneys to provide expert testimony as litigation support consultants. The expert witness can play a variety of roles in lost profits cases including performing damage calculations to coordinating complex research and analysis and creating case strategies. To do this, the forensic expert must select an approach in the pretrial planning phase that helps develop and integrate […]


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Since our last blog was published, the New York State Assembly gave final passage on July 1st to no-fault divorce, clearing the way for New York State to allowing couples to end their marriages quickly when one spouse believes the union is over. The new measure, which requires one spouse to swear under oath that the relationship has broken down irretrievably for at least six months, is the final piece of a legislative package enacting the most sweeping changes to the state’s divorce laws in 40 years. This final legislative approval comes after what one member of the Assembly called “an awfully long and hard battle.” The bills now await Governor Paterson’s signature. No-fault divorce has long been opposed by the Catholic Church, with the view that the legislation would make divorce easier; feminists argued that no-fault did not address the concerns of poorer women. The National Organization for Women of New York State has found itself on the same side of the issue as the Church, although the New York City chapter of NOW supports the legislation. Marcia Pappas, president of the New York State chapter of NOW, has written recently, “No-fault can take away the bargaining leverage of the non-moneyed spouse—and that is usually the woman….In fairness, any partner to a marriage should be provided with notice that the other partner wants a divorce and given an opportunity to negotiate the terms for the divorce. Often, there is fault with ‘divorce on demand,’ not only can the more moneyed […]


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Forty years ago, no-fault divorce was a controversial topic. Among the arguments made against it was that the full-time homemaker would lose leverage if unilateral divorce became a reality. But the American household has changed considerably over the years: more and more, two-parent earner households are the norm, and the working mom/stay-at-home dad model has become commonplace. Since 1969, when Gov. Reagan signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce law, the country has gradually fallen into place with no-fault divorce legislation—except for New York State. But that seems about to change. On Tuesday, June 15, the State Senate’s Democratic Majority passed a legislative package that seeks to finally end New York’s status as the remaining state without no-fault divorce. The No-Fault Divorce bill restructures New York State’s matrimonial law to streamline the process and improve the outcome of divorce for New Yorkers. The bill, approved 32-29, would allow no-fault divorce after a marriage has “irretrievably” broken down for six months or more and after all financial and custody issues are resolved. The legislative package must still pass the State Assembly, which is considering two bills that would adopt some version of no-fault divorce. Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a Democrat from Westchester and the Bronx who was chief Senate sponsor of the bill, said after the vote, “What I’m hoping is that because the Assembly now has a partner in the Senate, that will give impetus to help the Assembly move along.” Under current law, New York couples who want to divorce must fault […]


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On Wednesday, June 9, 2010, John Jay College, the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation, and the Family & Divorce Mediation Counsel of Greater New York sponsored a panel discussion on the Proposed Maintenance Guidelines. The panel was comprised of three attorneys, Steven Abel, Esq., Alton L. Abramowitz, Esq., Emily Ruben, Esq. and forensic accountant and business valuation expert, Mark S. Gottlieb, CPA. The program was moderated by Rod Wells, CFP. While the panel and the audience primarily agreed the intent of the proposed legislation has merit – there was some concern whether the proposed legislation addresses the need of a mechanism to calculate maintenance awards. Emily Ruben, Esq. (Attorney-in Charge of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Office of The Legal Aid Society) pointed out that many couples going through a divorce do not have substantial assets to divide and that their greatest asset of the marriage is frequently the income of the more-monied spouse.   That being said, moderate and low-income spouses usually cannot afford the often costly litigation required to establish a right to maintenance. Considering the unpredictable and inconsistent climate of maintenance awards, the less-monied spouse will usually settle, albeit under some pressure, to avoid costly litigation. The New York legislative houses are each considering possible legislation to establish guidelines for post-marital income sharing not dissimilar to the Child Support Standards Act. By establishing guidelines for both the amount of maintenance to be awarded and the duration of the award, post-marital guidelines would provide the consistency and predictability for spousal support […]


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Major Changes in New Jersey’s Palimony Law

Posted in Divorce & Matrimony, on Apr 2010, By: Mark S. Gottlieb

In recent years, we have seen an increasing number of cases dealing with palimony filed in the New Jersey courts. Palimony has long been based on the law of contracts, where an oral promise can be enforced if a party relies and acts on it to their detriment. But a new law came into being during the last days of the Corzine Administration, requiring that in order for a palimony agreement to be enforceable, it must now be in writing and be executed with the independent advice of legal counsel.   Recently, forensic accounting expert, Mark S. Gottlieb,  met with Stephanie Hagan, a Family Law attorney and Partner in the firm Donohue, Hagan, Klein, Newsome and O’Donnell PC, to discuss the enactment of the Statute and its effect on couples. Both of these professionals have extensive experience in matrimonial and family law matters.   Although early palimony decisions found that cohabitation was a necessary element in a palimony action, this concept was eventually overruled by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2008 when the Court ruled in Devaney v. L’Esperance .  In this case cohabitation was no longer a required factor. The Court found that a marital-type relationship is essential to any palimony claim; however, cohabitation is not essential to a determination of a marital-type relationship.  In many instances married couples may be separated by employment, military, or educational opportunities. Hence, not all married couples live together on a full-time basis. According to Ms. Hagan, there is no doubt that […]


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Madoff Scam Hits the Divorce Court

Posted in Divorce & Matrimony, on Apr 2010, By: Mark S. Gottlieb

Over on New Jersey Family Legal Blog, I saw a post that editor Eric Solotoff, a family law attorney at Fox Rothschild wrote that struck my interest. Upon reading the post, Madoff Mess Hits Divorce Court, I knew I had to sit down with Eric for a podcast, to discuss what all this means in respect to forensic accounting.     For context, Justice Saralee Evans in Manhattan recently decided on a case regarding a divorcing spouse who attempted to revise his agreement with his wife. First, some background for our readers who may not be that familiar with the case: After thirty years of marriage, a husband and his ex-wife spent nearly two years debating the value of their home in Scarsdale, The husband’s law partnership, and their Manhattan apartment. The two agreed on at least one thing: an account they opened during their marriage with Bernard Madoff Investment Securities LLC was worth $5.4 million. As part of a 2006 equitable distribution agreement, the husband claimed he paid his wife some $2.7 million, which represented what he thought was his ex-wife’s fair share of their investments with Madoff. But after Madoff’s arrest in December 2008, the husband attempted to redo the agreement, claiming it was based on a “material, mutual mistake” and resulted in a windfall for his ex-wife. After the husband learned that he and his wife had “been tricked by a sophisticated fraudster,” he sought to reform the divorce agreement. The husband claimed the agreement did not accomplish […]


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