After overcoming initial hurdles to get parties in a contested case divorced, such as sorting out the separation date, meeting legal waiting times, and getting the case to the point where a hearing officer can make decisions on the distribution of assets and debts, most cases are straightforward. Assets and debts are brought together and much of what remains for the hearing officer (or for the parties and their attorneys at settlement) is to determine the percentages for each party and the implementation plan. work. Cases where the parties are self-employed, complex commercial cases or even cases of employees where a lack of documentation complicates the characterization of certain assets and debts can be more delicate. The biggest problems arise when there may be legitimate questions about whether an asset actually exists or may exist in the future and, if so, whether it is possible to divide it.
Such situations may arise when one of the spouses is a financial advisor. Often when a financial advisor chooses to stay with a current firm and renegotiate their compensation or, more often, when an advisor offers themselves to multiple firms to see where they can get the best deal, the compensation for the new firm will of course include a salary, but may also include initial lump sum “reimbursable” bonuses over several years. These “bonuses” are structured as loans and accompanied by promissory notes repayable in periodically canceled (usually monthly) amounts. The actual amounts of the periodic repayments can then be canceled by the finance company, but are itemized on the advisor’s compensation notices so that taxes on the canceled periodic amounts can be collected. Loans are only truly repayable if the advisor separates from the business or breaches other covenants.