Getting divorced is complicated, especially when you are in a situation like mine. My ex and I own a restaurant together. Over the years, as my health worsened, my role decreased and his increased. In the 4 or 5 years before our separation I had little to do with the business, leaving decisions, management and bookkeeping up to him. Now, I have to figure out what the business is worth and what his actual income is. He reports a certain amount of his income to the IRS, but he pockets cash, and charges numerous personal items to the business, all of which is income.
To determine his income I hired an accountant. He was recommended to me by a friend, who told me he had expertise in evaluating the restaurant business. When I first met with him my gut was screaming “don’t hire him”. Having spent the past 25 years discounting and second guessing my gut though, I hired him anyway.
To keep expenses down I, with the help of family members, did much of the leg work involved in finding missing cash and identifying personal expenses charged to the business. After months and months of work I met with the accountant, my lawyer, my father and my cousin who had done much to the work with me. We reviewed the work we had done, I went through the various reports and documents, and off the accountant went with 4 years worth of records. This was early August.
For the next 3 months I heard little, except he was “working”. I received statements every month and, by the week before Thanksgiving, in addition to him requesting a payment of over $10,000, which was made, I was told he would have a report of my ex’s income to me by Thanksgiving. As you might have guessed, given the title of this post, I have yet to receive anything.
I’ve been working closely with my older brother on all of this. He is a successful business man, he is financially brilliant, and he is usually very successful getting what he asks for. He often does so in what many consider a brutish manner, but he gets things done. He has spoken with the accountant several times, yet still I have nothing. My father has spoken to the accountant and still, nothing. I have spoken to the accountant and again, Nothing.
So, what are my options?
1 – Proceed without his report. I have drafted a settlement offer based on what I think my ex’s income is, and I will continue to pursue that, but I still have that nagging doubts. And, without an official report calling Bullshit on my ex’s claimed income, I doubt I’ll get much cooperation.
2 – Talk to my lawyer about it? I could do this, but at $325. an hour it seems like adding insult to injury. And, my guess is that he would get the same response from the accountant, which is nothing.
3 – Go to my accountant’s bosses? Write a terrible review on Yelp? Sue him? I am so, so tempted to do all of these things.
Once again, I find myself being taken advantage of, and I feel totally helpless. My brother is adamant that I not take any action against the accountant. He says this is how business works; people don’t do what they are supposed to do and, as the purchaser of these services, it is up to me (and him) to continue to nag until the accountant delivers. If I use my marriage as a barometer, it is absolutely true that people don’t do what they are supposed to do. My ex did 1 out of everything 10 things he said he would do; I’m used to being disappointed. Isn’t this different, though?
I’m at such a loss. Any advice?
One thought on “The Unaccountable Accountant”
You are worth receiving the appropriate services you paid for. I ran into a situation where I was used to being treated a certain way, and my counselor said – you need to be reminded that you are worth fighting for. I don’t know what the best answer for your situation is, but I will pass that one thought along. Something seems fishy in that situation, and you owe it to YOU to pursue it. Empower yourself. You don’t have to accept disappointment any longer. (I know, easier said than done right?)
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