Irina Anissimova, CPA, CFF

Forensic Accountant

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts

This is a collection of occasional random facts, notes, unpolished personal opinions and obseravtions related to my work in divorce litigation. They are here not so much as useful information, but to provide food for thought and an opportunity to look at the divorce process from different angles and multiple points of view. 

Divorce is a complex process and a drastic change in lives of all its participants. It has long lasting repercussions in peoples' lives which should be considered at the start (but usually are not). 

You can also find an expanded and illustrated version of this blog at:

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Incidental losses & acquisitions

Posted on August 1, 2015 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (4)

Divorce has repercussions way beyond the relationship of the two people with "irreconcilable differences". It is often overlooked (at least at the beginning) that family members and friends end up being divided between the former spouses and/or lost altogether. New friends and relations are also acquired, whether one wants and likes it or not.

These losses and acquisitions are hard to evaluate and balance out, especially for children.

On adultery

Posted on July 11, 2015 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday chat with my hairdresser which goes with a hair cut made me think of a triangle wife-husband-mistress (or husband-wife-lover) and who is to blame for it. I have been on both wife and mistress sides of it myself and I have talked to many men who found themselves in the middle, so here is my "expert opinion" on the issue:

First, the party responsible for this whole arrangement is the cheating spouse and not the other two participants. This arrangement does not go with a highly conflicted marriage, so its existence itself is predicated on the relationship where the other spouse does not have any suspicions and is more or less content with his/her marital life. The outsider (mistress or lover) can have no clue about what is going inside the marriage and either does not know at first that the cheater is married or is deceived into thinking that the marriage is de facto defunct and the cheated spouse does not care. The outsider is offered something he/she finds appealing and available at little or no cost. The only person who should be able to foresee what he/she is starting is the cheating spouse because he/she is the one who makes a decision to engage with the outsider. So yes, I believe that it is the cheating spouse who should bear the responsibility and the blame.

Interestingly, men in the middle usually do not realize what they have got themselves into until they are found out and suddenly find themselves confronted with the urgent need to make unpleasant choices. I have not talked to enough women in the middle to make any conclusions about their perceptions.

In modern times, when divorce is easy to get and extra-marital affairs bring with them no shame or social disapproval, the triangular arrangement is very unstable. The longer it goes, the closer is the time it blows up and the louder is the bang.

Spending time with the outsider requires lying to the cheated spouse. Usually this time also increases to a point when the cheated spouse starts feeling neglected. Lying is difficult and takes more and more effort over time, so eventually, the cheated spouse becomes suspicious and watchful while the outsider grows to be more and more expectant and demanding. When the cheated spouse finds out about the ongoing affair, there is nothing to compel her/him to accept it, there is no real economic necessity or social pressure, like 150 years ago.

I am loss averse, so I believe that for the cheating spouse and the outsider it is best not to get oneself into a triangle.

The outsider does not always have a choice at the start. When the explosion occurs, it is better for him/her to run fast and far from the perpetrator - he/she is not worth keeping, having demonstrated his/her dishonesty and inability (or lack of desire) to resolve his/her own problems.

The cheating spouse, who has the choice at the start, is better off erring on the side of caution and ending/suspending a promising outside relationship until his/her marriage is resolved. It is better (and usually much cheaper) to get a divorce first and then to find another long term partner, not the other way around.

On relationship advice

Posted on June 30, 2015 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Herds of relationship gurus and tons of books on how to improve one's marriage have made us believe that we can control the progress and development of our marriages. 

What is overlooked (or disregarded) is that it takes two to tango: if one's partner does not reciprocate, or takes one's efforts for granted, or misinterprets them, there is absolutely NOTHING one can do about it. All individual efforts are useless if the other partner does not want to carry his/her half of the relationship maintenance load.

It is not at all unusual for marriages to break because of one spouse's lack of desire to maintain them. The well established tradition of Old Wife Dumping is an example.

Extra marital affairs

Posted on June 15, 2015 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (54)

Very often a divorce is triggered by an affair. There are two types: a one night stand and a long term entanglement.

A short term type can be successfully hidden and, if accidentally uncovered, can be eventually disregarded by the offended spouse (after some fuss) - it is, after all, SHORT TERM, which means no one involved has any expectations or commitments, it is, therefore, reasonably easy for the guily party to give up and everybody in his/her sane mind knows that temptations are hard to resist.

A long term affair is a different thing altogether. These are very hard to hide - elaborate long term lying is difficult and eventually the truth comes out. Long term affairs imply simultaneous commitments to two sides - a spouse and a mistress/lover - and these two sides usually have very different desires and aspirations. Long term affairs are very threatening to the cheated spouse - she/he looses all trust and is under pressure to protect him/herself from further abuse and humiliation.

Long term affairs very often break marriages and, after the irreparable damage is done, prove to be not worth the trouble.

Parents vs. children

Posted on June 8, 2015 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (50)

Every divorcing couple with children has to deal with timeshare and visitation for the non-custodial parent. I do not get involved in custody battles, my role is limited to an occasional calculation of timeshare but I do see a tendency to consider 50/50 timeshare as a desirable arrangement.

The main argument in favor of such split is parents' right to be involved in the upbringing of their children. The push comes from payors of child support - they want to reduce the payment and to get some benefit for their money.

While I understand the reason why 50/50 sharing is promoted by the courts and is becoming more and more common, I truly doubt that it is indeed desirable and is in the best interests of the children. To me it looks more like shifting psychological costs of adults' decisions onto defensless children.

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study describes visitation arrangements as one of the main and most harmful problems for children growing up. Some of the facts described in the book seem to me an outright and brutal disregard for children's well being (It has to be noted here that I myself grew up in a full family). Even from an adult perspective living in two households at the same time is extremely stressful and not at all desirable.

There is one more consideration that some of us older people remember - the high probability of limited visitation and resulting loss of involvement in children's lives used to be a deterrent for parents considering a divorce.

So what balance of rights vs. obligations do parents have with respect to their children these days and how much better off the children are compared to their place 100 years ago?

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study

Stress rating

Posted on May 19, 2015 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (51)

Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale lists "death of a spouse" as a most stressful event in one's life. Divorce comes second. I sometimes think that the order in many situations may as well be reversed.

At least death is final and one does not need to continue maintaining some sort of a relationship with the ex-spouse for many more years until the children are grown.