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May I Serve You Some Crow with Your Ice Cream?

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A friend of mine recently came to me seeking help with his divorce and it brought back a case I handled previously. I told him the following story and I thought you might enjoy hearing it:

Over her 20-year marriage, my client and her husband had made a very profitable living by building, staffing, and opening ice cream parlors. Then she discovered that he had been “cooking the books.” While investigating this upsetting fact, she found out something else. He was having an affair with one of their store managers. She had been hurt and betrayed on two counts. Fortunately, she came to see me before she confronted her husband about either issue.

I put my client in contact with several therapists, so that she could deal with the very challenging emotional issues, and I addressed her financial dilemma. She revealed that her husband had kept two sets of books. One set recorded actual profits, and proved that the business was quite successful. The other set of books told an entirely different story. This was the set he had shared with the IRS. I explained that thorough copies of those handwritten books had to be made, and quickly, because if the IRS were to declare an audit, those records would disappear.

We used a team of investigators with portable copy machines, and the process took over six months. All of the books from each store were successfully copied, proving that each store made huge profits. Then we filed for the divorce, and served her husband.

Several days later, I got a call from the partner of a Beverly Hills law firm. I listened while the lawyer went on about his client’s lousy ice cream business, terrible financial situation, and desperate straits. He said that his poor client was barely one step from bankruptcy. I listened patiently to the entire horror story, then asked him if he had anything more to add. He said no, “except I need to tell you that you’re wasting your time, there’s no money in this case. There is nothing for your client but a big fat zero.”

I explained that I knew something he didn’t know. I knew that his client kept two sets of books.

I knew that ‘the failing business’ appeared on the set of the books used to file tax returns. The other was the set that his client would never show him. It was the legitimate set that proved the exact opposite, that the business was extremely profitable. It was the set that would predictably disappear in the event of an IRS audit. I explained that my clever client had made copies of both sets of books. Further, I told him to make his client aware that the accurate set of books would be the basis for any settlement terms. There was a lengthy pause on the other end of the phone. Then the Beverly Hills lawyer said, “I’ll get back to you.”

He did, and the four of us met. We were able to settle amicably and confidentially, in a way that was very fair and generous to my client. The PS to this story is that some time later, after the divorce was final, my client hit the Lotto for two million dollars. She telephoned her ex and sweetly asked, “May I Serve you some Crow with your Ice Cream?”

P.S. We’ve been giving free divorce workshops twice a month in an effort to give back to the community and have had tremendous feedback. Feel free to respond to this email if you’d like more info about our free workshops.

Your friend,
Ron Supancic
21051 Warner Center Lane, Suite 100
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
T: (818)348-6700
F: (818)348-0961