Mary and Frank had been married for twenty-five years. They had three grown children all over the age of twenty-one. During the marriage Frank built a hot dog vending business. He started with one truck that sold hot dogs, soda and pretzels. By the time of the divorce he had five trucks set up on Lexington and Madison Avenues in Manhattan. Mary was the primary caretaker of the children when they were young and helped Frank with the business. She would help prepare and organize the food each day for the trucks. However, Mary never kept track of the money or the books of the business.
At the time of divorce, it was agreed that the worth of the marital residence and retirement funds would be shared equally between Mary and Frank. It was also agreed that the business was a marital asset and that Mary was entitled to half the worth of the business. Since Mary did not have an income of her own, and had always been financially supported by Frank and the hot dog vending business, there was no dispute that maintenance was necessary for Mary to live.
The problem was that the tax returns did not reflect Frank’s true income and Frank wasn’t any help in divulging financial information about the unreported cash that the business was bringing in. He stood by the numbers on the tax returns and did not have any records showing otherwise.
Frank bought his food items for the vendors from different locations and numerous suppliers. His customers were people on the street who were random and too numerous to subpoena to determine income. However, Mary knew the sale prices of the hot dogs, pretzels and soda and where the vending trucks were located. Mary hired college students to stand by each vendor and keep track of how many food and beverage items were purchased each day by each truck.
When the records were tallied, it turned out that Frank’s business was making four times the amount he claimed on his tax returns. The case settled soon after Frank and his lawyer were presented with this information.