Don’t Sign That Tax Return You Might Be Sorry If You Want Maintenance/Alimony

It has come to our attention that many people seeking maintenance or alimony (the less-moneied spouse, often the primary care giver, and customarily the mother) advise that their husbands have certain “unreported” income. This can be from illegal rental apartments; construction side jobs; or even a larger income than claimed for small business owners. It is very common for home-makers and

full time mothers to tell us that their husband reports a net income of $25,000 or $50,000 but are really making $200,000. They say that they inflate their expenses; convert expenses into business expenses; or otherwise do not report cash side jobs and rental income.

Under the case of Mahoney D. Buntzmann 12 NY 3d 415,901 NY 2d 62 (2009) it is clear that a client cannot claim maintenance (formally known as alimony) on income above and beyond what was set forth on a tax return signed by the party seeking that maintenance.

The above case presents a scenario whereby a home-maker/ full time mother signs joint tax returns that are presented to her. For whatever reason the tax returns have a very low income amount that results in deductions that are not realistic and this individual knows them to be unrealistic. Yet they sign them for the benefit of their family; or because they were emotionally coerced into doing so. In the above scenario, this individual cannot claim alimony or maintenance above and beyond the amount that was set forth in the tax return they sign.

In a standard divorce the Courts seek 2-3 years of prior tax returns. If you are signing tax returns that are not clearly reflective of your spouse’s and/or household income you will be greatly harmed during divorce.

It is our experience that 5% of all the divorces in this category harm the children most as the primary care giver or full time mother is then povertized by being held to the amount of income that she represented as accurate on the parties most recent tax returns.

If you are thinking of divorce, know that the tax returns you are signing could be the skeletons in the closet and will come out to strip away your divorce maintenance payment.

Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. is a divorce and family law firm in Melville, New York. They are arguably the largest and most successful divorce and family law firm in New York and Mr. Salamone personally takes consults in selective cases. See our website at for further information.

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