“Forensic evaluator” in divorce action?

D.M. v. R.M., 201409/2014

  • Justice Sharon M.J. Gianelli
  • Supreme Court, Nassau County, IAS/Trial Part 32

Court Grants Motion to Expand Appointment of Forensic Evaluator in Divorce Action.

I saw this little clip in the New York Law Journal and thought, hmmm. I’ve written about something like this previously. Although the woman I was helping to organize her divorce papers did not, I think, retain a forensic evaluator, i.e., a CPA, I’d guess, with experience in tracking the deceitful movement of money.

Still, here’s what I wrote about it:

As an example of the potential power buried within a time line, let me tell you about Mrs. Valerie Scarwater and her painful divorce from Mr. Scarwater who had become wealthy during their marriage (and had left her for his assistant, that old story).

I’d been asked to help Mrs. Valerie with organization. But when I walked into her large, beautifully furnished home office and saw the mess of papers (hereafter shortened to MOP) all over the floor, I got grumpy. I do like a neat chronological file.

This divorce case involved assets Mrs. Valerie believed her husband was hiding. She was clearly too distressed about her husband’s perfidy to articulate her thoughts, and her lawyer didn’t seem to picking up on the points she was trying to make. And there were those papers, all over the floor. That MOP.

Somewhat testy, I plunked myself down at her computer, sat Mrs. Valerie on the floor in the middle of her MOP and had her pick up at random and read to me every letter, every note and scribble, every balance sheet–every single document lying on her floor–while I entered its date and summary of its contents into a chronological record.

Amazing. When I read through this time line we’d compiled, I saw what she was struggling to say. She was right. Her husband had been hiding assets. The time line laid out the full story.

Time lines expose so much. It’s almost mystical, as if once you write down your prosaic sentences, secret writing appears underneath. A single incident–somebody said something upsetting, followed in two weeks by an event that was odd but did not seem at the time to be related–can, when placed into a time line, appear as a clear pattern of, say, harassment or discrimination. Or asset hiding.

 
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