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Seminole County State Rep Questioned on Assets in Divorce

A critical part of dividing assets and determining alimony in a divorce case is determining the wealth, income and assets of both parties. Without a clear and accurate assessment of what each spouse has to work with, a judge can't make a fair decision about how assets should be distributed. In a high-profile divorce case in Seminole County, a Florida legislator is being accused of being less than honest due to his alleged use of creative accounting methods.

The Orlando Sentinel newspaper reported on Oct. 24 that state Rep. Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary told a judge last January that his net worth was negative $3 million. The claim was made during a contentious divorce proceeding with his estranged wife. Less than six months later, the Sentinel reported, the Republican politician filed a state financial form that claimed his net worth was negative $56,000. The form was filed as a required part of his reelection bid.

According to the newspaper, the difference of more than $2.9 million mostly occurred due Dorworth using different accounting methods for the two assessments, providing the appearance to potential voters that he was doing far better financially than he indicated to the divorce court.

There are several ways in which the politician's financial statements differ between his reelection paperwork and the divorce assessments, the newspaper reported, quoting the representative as saying the state filings and divorce statements are "two different documents"

According to the Sentinel, the biggest differences between the statements are related to a failed land deal that resulted in a $2.7 million legal judgment against him and his estranged spouse. In divorce court, Dorworth claimed the full amount as a liability against his assets. However, in the reelection disclosure, he only claimed half. The contention is that half the liability will be borne by his wife after the divorce is finalized.

It is important for anyone dealing with a divorce to have a full understanding of their rights in a court of law. Understanding those rights can ensure that you receive whatever you're entitled in such a case.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Dorworth finances are tale of two accounting methods," Scott Powers and Jason Garcia, Oct. 24, 2012

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