If you’ve been following the news this week, you might be aware that Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been indicted on fraud and tax evasion charges during his time working for the former president. What you might have not heard is that the investigation into Weisselberg’s finances was helped, in part, by a divorce case he was close to — a reminder of how much financial information comes into play in divorce.
As Bloomberg reported, “Part of Allen Weisselberg’s legal troubles began when his former daughter-in-law couldn’t get the numbers in her divorce proceedings to add up.”
Jennifer Weisselberg, married to the Trump CFO’s son Barry, was concerned about how she was going to maintain the life that she and her children were used to after the divorce. That’s a common concern that divorcing couples have, but in her case, it was pronounced because of the lifestyle they’d become accustomed to — which didn’t entirely square with Barry’s salary.
That included, as the article noted, “An apartment overlooking Central Park and tuition for two children at Manhattan’s Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, currently listed at more than $50,000 a year per student.” Those elements of their budget “appeared to far outstrip his pay as a manager at the Trump Organization-run Wollman Rink in Central Park. In 2016, for example, he made $211,000, tax returns show.”
By opening up to Bloomberg last year for a story on the couple’s finances, prosecutors building a case against Allen Weisselberg came to her seeking records.
“The indictment included the now-divorced couple’s use of two company apartments, and tuition for their children,” Bloomberg said of the case now before court — charges to which Allen Weisselberg is pleading not guilty. “After years’ worth of investigations into the Trump Organization’s business partnerships, lending arrangements and potential conflicts of interest that have so far generated little more than headlines, the comparatively prosaic tax matters that Jennifer Weisselberg flagged have become part of the criminal charges brought against the company and her former father-in-law.”
It’s important to note, of course, that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and that fraud and tax evasion matters can be complicated. People across the entire political spectrum can face charges for perceived improprieties.
But it’s also important to note just how under the microscope finances can be in a divorce, particularly when it’s a high-net-worth divorce, and particularly when a spouse might be eligible for spousal support in addition to child support. We offer all of our clients advice about being transparent and complete with financial records, including any assets that individual parties have, in order to determine how the assets should be divided in settling a divorce.
But if you have a more complicated financial picture than the average couple, you have more wealth than the average couple, or you have some other factor in your financial picture — such as one or both spouses owning a business — you may want to bring a forensic accountant or financial neutral into the picture. Those experts can work in tandem with your legal team to help you settle your divorce, and if you’re using an alternative dispute resolution method like mediation or collaborative law, you can even work out a creative way to divide assets without a judge deciding for you.
If you’re ready to divorce, but have questions about any aspect of your finances, an initial consultation with the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance is a great place to start. It’ll allow you to discuss your situation and your concerns, and we can determine the level of financial expertise to bring in to help settle your case.