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Vol. III, Issue No. 9
November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!  This month's briefing covers a recent successful expungement of a broker's record, the importance of income planning for a business owner paying child support, and thanksgiving-turkey-header.jpg a profile of the HSP attorney who was a lead singer and guitarist for a rock cover band!

We're thankful for our families and clients. Have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Broker's Record Successfully Clarified 

A  securities broker's public record is an important piece of information for both the public and the broker. Recently, Gavin Fleming successfully obtained clarification of the record of his securities broker client. The client's 
former employer had placed misleading termination language on his Form U5 - a termination notice which includes reasons for a broker's termination.

Under the rules of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA"), a broker may seek to have termination language expunged, amended, or clarified to ensure that it is accurate and not misleading. Because this language appears on FINRA's "Broker Check" and is publicly available, inaccurate language can lead to a loss of clients or a failure to secure subsequent employment. Therefore, correcting the employer's improperly drafted language is critical.

Following a two day FINRA arbitration, Gavin received an Arbitration Award which favorably clarified our client's termination language. The firm has obtained several successful results in the securities area this year. Contact Gavin Fleming or John Hubbard with questions about this case or any potential securities issues which you or your referrals may have.  

Have You Updated Your Beneficiary Designations to Reflect Changed Circumstances?

The importance of being diligent in changing your beneficiary designations to reflect your current circumstances  and being careful in drafting your divorce settlement was highlighted in a recent Naples Daily News article.  In the Collier County dispute, a deceased police officer's ex-wife and mother are battling in court over the beneficiary of his pension.

The police officer filed for divorce in January of 2012 and reached a settlement agreement in May 2013, splitting his pension equally between his ex-wife and his mother. However, as a result of the failure to change beneficiaries with the pension board and a conflict between the divorce order and a new Florida law, the  pension board couldn't determine who whether the  proper beneficiary was the officer's ex-wife or his mother.

While the article notes that "the two have a good relationship," both are seeking his full monthly pension payments.  Unless you intend to create an opportunity for awkward Thanksgiving dinners, contact Mark Snitchler to ensure your estate plan and beneficiary designations reflect your current wishes. 
Business Owners Paying Michigan Child Support Beware!

The Michigan Court of Appeals has made two exceedingly important rulings that affect how a business owner's income will be calculated for the purpose of paying child support.

Michigan utilizes a Child Support Formula to calculate the child support a parent should pay. This complex calculation is assisted in the case of a business owner by expert witnesses who assess factors such as the amount of time the child spends with each parent and the income of each parent. Because business owners are compensated differently than W-2 employees, the formula was amended in 2013 to provide guidance to courts on how calculate a business owner's income.

The recent case of Diez v. Davey is
 one of the first cases to explore how the new guidelines will be applied. There are two takeaways: 1) funds distributed by an S Corporation to shareholders to offset payment of taxes on earnings retained by the corporation should not be included as income for the shareholder-parent under the formula; and 2) if the corporation retains earnings as a consistent business strategy, as distinguished from retaining the earnings prior to litigation to intentionally reduce a shareholder's income, these earnings are likely not going to be included in the shareholder-parent's income for purposes of child support.

Gavin Fleming has represented business owners as well as their spouses on child support issues. Contact him with your family law questions.

Attorney Profile - Gavin Fleming

This month's attorney profile features Gavin Fleming
.  Gavin was born and raised in Liverpool, England.  Gavin attended high school in England and moved to the United States in 1996. Gavin received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan.

After practicing with a large law firm in Chicago and two small local firms, in 2012, along with his law partners, Gavin moved his practice to Detroit.  Gavin focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation, matrimonial law with an emphasis for business owners and spouses of business owners, and securities arbitration work. He remains licensed to practice law in Illinois.

A few things you may not know about Gavin: First, Gavin is married to Emily, a special education teacher, and is the proud father of two amazing boys, Noah (9) and Zachary (6).  Second, Gavin thoroughly enjoys traveling - his next trip will be to New York to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden.  Third, Gavin enjoys cycling classes at Lifetime Fitness and he also enjoys running.  Finally, Gavin is a former professional musician who played the guitar and sang lead vocals in a popular cover band, The Replica Junkies.  After two tours with the band, including shows across Michigan, Gavin hung up his guitar in 2005.

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