If your divorce is going to involve splitting considerable assets and debts — particularly if it involves a complex financial portfolio, you may benefit from having a forensic accountant on your team to work with your attorney and financial advisor.
There are many reasons why you might retain a forensic accountant. For example, if you’re the spouse with the bulk of the assets, a forensic accountant can help if the divorce goes to court. As one family law attorney explains, “If a divorcing client must go to court over complex assets, income determination or some other financial issue, a forensic accountant can often testify on behalf of the party about particular financial issues.”
If your spouse is the one with most of the complex assets, perhaps including one or more businesses and overseas financial interests, a forensic accountant can help ensure that they’re all located and properly valued. There are myriad ways that people can understate their income and hide assets. You also want to be sure that marital and separate property are classified properly.
Among the ways that people hide or minimize income and assets are:
- Underreporting income
- Padding payroll
- Overpaying creditors
- Creating fake debt
- Buying expensive items with cash that have been hidden
- Transferring assets to phony companies and corporations
Underreporting of income and assets doesn’t necessarily have to be due to fraud. A spouse may just be a poor record-keeper and money manager. Regardless, a forensic accountant can help determine the true value of the assets you’ll be dividing. They can also help you and your attorney determine what assets you want to fight for and which to let go.
While you may hesitate to pay yet another professional to be on your divorce team, it’s wise to weigh the potential value of a forensic accountant in your particular case. It could be an investment that pays off very well. Your attorney can help you determine whether a forensic accountant and/or other professionals can help you as you negotiate your divorce settlement.