‘I said send it in writing first, then I’ll stop.’ Man Responds With Years Of Receipts When His Ex’s Attorney Requests Full Financial Statements
by Trisha Leigh
Divorce is a fact of life for many, many families. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to handle when it’s your own dissolution, or that tempers and emotions don’t run high when money (and kids) are involved.
OP was going through one of those hotly contested divorces when his wife got it in her head that he was hiding money. So, her lawyer requested three full years of financial statements.
This happened several years ago when my ex and I were going through a heated divorce/custody battle. While we were married, we had a couple of conversations about how rich people hide their assets to avoid paying taxes.
I’ve never had enough assets to do this, but she somehow got the idea that I was and told her attorney that I was laundering money and hiding income.
It was more likely the heat of the moment as divorce/custody battles often come down to. I couldn’t even afford my own attorney so I represented myself.
Her lawyer wasn’t a total jerk, but he clearly was out to get me, and he talked down to me like I didn’t deserve to breathe the same air. One day, I get a letter in the mail from him requesting an updated income declarations form and 3 years of financials. It had a long list of things to include.
This was annoying, since OP was trying to get a business off the ground and didn’t have the time or money to round this up – but, as he was being threatened with the IRS and other things if he didn’t, he figured he would comply.
I own a communications tech company that was in super startup phase back then. Money was already tight. I was trying to get this business off the ground with no financing, I was finishing my MBA with scholarships and loans, so paying for copies and postage or driving this 30 miles to his office meant eating peanut butter and saltines for a week.
So I called him to explain my situation. He all but called me a liar and didn’t believe I couldn’t afford it.
I was put off by that, and I said this was taking time away from business I needed to handle. To which he replied (and I’ll never forget this), “Well, according to your income declarations, you’re not that busy. What do you do all day?”
He then said if he didn’t get these documents, he would consider my previous filings as fraudulent tell the judge, contact the DA, and also alert the state tax agency and IRS. Probably an empty threat, but I’m no lawyer.
In a big way, by faxing a 150+ page document of largely irrelevant paperwork to the attorney’s office.
Efax is one of the services my company provides, and at this time it was relatively unknown. So I asked him if he has a fax machine. He said he had a fax/scanner/copier device, then said what law office doesn’t have a fax machine? And I suddenly got an idea. Okay, I said to him, I’ll put together and fax whatever I can.
Okay, genius. You want 3 years of financials? You got it.
I scanned-to-PDF every receipt I could find. McDonald’s receipt from 5 years ago? Sure, won’t hurt to include it. CVS receipt? It’s 3 miles long, perfect. They get the $1 off toothpaste coupons too.
I downloaded every bank statement, credit card statement, purchase orders from vendors, and every invoice I sent to clients. I printed to PDF the entire 3 year accounting journal, monthly/quarterly/annual balance sheets, cash flow statements, P & L’s. Not only did I PDF 3 years of tax filings, but every single letter I received from the IRS and state tax agency, including the inserts advising me of my rights. It took awhile, but I was a few days ahead of the deadline!
I made a cover page black background with white lettering. Wherever I could, I included separator pages in all caps in the biggest, boldest font that would fit on the page in landscape: 20XX RECEIPTS, 20XX TAXES, etc. I merged everything into a single 150+ page compressed PDF and sent the document using my Efax system.
The secretary called and begged him to stop but he said he couldn’t. He had a deadline.
Every hour or so, I received a status email saying the fax failed. Huh, that’s weird. Well, they’re getting this document. So I changed the system configuration to unlimited retries after failures to keep redialing until it went through. Weird, I was still getting status email failures. I’ll delete the failure emails and keep the success one after it eventually goes through, I thought. Problem solved.
Two days later, a lady from his office called and asked me to stop sending the fax. Their fax/scanner/printer/copier had been printing non-stop. It kept getting paper jams, kept running out of ink and they had to keep shutting it off and back on to print.
I explained that her boss told me to send this by the deadline or else he would call the DA and IRS.
He said he would need something in writing that said he didn’t have to complete the task, first, which they eventually gave him.
Since I didn’t want a call from the DA or the IRS, I would keep sending until I get a success confirmation. I suggested they just not print until my fax completes, but she didn’t like that.
She asked me to email the documents, and I told a little white lie that my email wouldn’t allow an attachment that big. Unless her boss in writing agreed to cancel the request or agree to reimburse me for my costs to print and ship, I said I would continue to fax until they confirm they have received every page.
She put me on hold, and the attorney gets on the line. He said forget sending the financials. I said that I would need this in writing, so I will keep sending the fax until he sent that to me. He asked me to stop faxing and he would send it in writing, and I said send it in writing first and then I’ll stop.
Long moment of silence… click.
About 20 minutes later, I received an email from his assistant with an attached, signed letter in PDF that I no longer needed to provide financials. The letter then threatened to pursue sanctions in court or sue me for interfering with their business. Every time I saw him after that, the lawyer never brought up sanctions, lawsuits, criminal referrals, or financials again.
Score one for that round.
Does Reddit think he shouldn’t have been cutting corners in the divorce?
Let’s find out!
The top comment says it’s called paper bombing.
They say sometimes you have to play dirty.
It seems to be a common tactic.
Don’t leave anything out.
Everyone likes a story in which the lawyer gets his.
It’s a satisfying story.
I do hope everything shook out fairly in the divorce, though.