Matt Levitsky, an associate in our Montgomery County, Pennsylvania office wrote a guest blog for our fir’s Pennsylvania Family Law Blog entitled "Who Gets to Claim the child if there is 50/50 Custody?"

Matt’s post talks about the four prong test and the fact that at the end of the day, all other things being equal, the exemption would normally go to the parent with the higher adjusted gross income (AGI).  The piece also has an interesting discussion on whether a step-parent’s income is included in the AGI test.  I note that Sandra Fava has previously addressed the issue of the allocation of the dependency exemptions, in general, on this blog.

While this is an interesting technical discussion, often it does not come into play in post-divorce scenarios in New Jersey because, either the parties agree upon the allocation of exemptions (most often, blindly alternating it if there is an odd number of children or splitting them if there is an even number of children – whether this makes sense or not will be the subject of another blog post in the future) or a judge will simply allocate the exemptions in a similar fashion, regardless of what the IRS code would provide. 

In any event, Matt’s post was interesting reading and provides some guidance about what the proper result is when there is no agreement of the parties or decision by a court.


Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or

I recently blogged on the issue of how to treat unreported income, perks and other personal expenses paid through the business and the treatment of same for support purposes.  As noted in that post, the issue comes up both for support and business valuation purposes. 

In order to value a business, the experts come up with an income stream that gets capitalized.  That income stream is tax affected.  That is where the issue gets interesting.  More often than not, the experts tax affect the entire income, after adding back the perks, personal expenses, non-operating expenses, unreported income, etc. 

I have asked several of the forensic accountants why this is being done if this is note the economic reality for the business owner in that case.  More often than not, I have been told that you cannot assume that a buyer of the business would not declare all of the income and/or would improperly pay expenses through the business.  From a pure business valuation perspective, this seems correct and reasonable.

For purposes of equitable distribution, that remains questionable.  In the seminal case on business valuation in divorce in NJ, Brown v. Brown, discounts for lack of marketability and lack of control were not considered because the business was not really being sold.  Some have argued that Brown means a value to the holder standard is to be applied.  While I am not sure that that is the case, if discounts are not applied because there is no sale, then why are these excess perks and personal expenses tax affected when doing so artificially reduces the value of the business?  Put another way, if the business owner is not paying taxes on these things, why should there be this fictional tax be applied, which only serves to reduce value? At some point, I am sure this issue will be litigated further.  Until then, we will continue making the arguments on both sides.

More often than not, a matrimonial law attorney is not a C.P.A.  More often than not during the process of a case, a client will ask the advice of their attorney, "How should I/we file tax returns this year?" 

The answer is and should be first and foremost a reference to a C.P.A.  A qualified C.P.A will be able to look at a divorcing couple’s entire financial picture, including their past and advise as to how to best file the final tax return in a way to minimize the taxes due.

What happens when one party does not want to file a joint return because of concerns regarding tax liabilities or even worse, penalties? The recent unpublished Appellate Division decision of Hreha-Coloccia v. Coloccia, A-3892-07T1, decided September 2, 2009, gives some guidance in this regard.

Continue Reading The Filing of Tax Returns During a Divorce