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One of the most important issues to settle in a divorce revolves around, of course, money. Who makes what income? Who gets what assets? Which assets are divided? And how? Will one party pay the other alimony or child support?
A good divorce attorney can handle many things. But sometimes your attorney needs to assemble a team on your behalf. And that team may need to include a forensic accountant.
A forensic accountant is a financial professional who examines personal and business financial records, looking at what is there, as well as what might be missing.
In high-conflict, high-asset divorces, one party may try to hide income or assets. A forensic accountant trains an eye on stock options, complex business partnerships, retirement and insurance plans, and property or assets in different states. Additionally, they sniff out fraud. In other cases, they make calculations on future tax implications.
Even in situations where things are progressing amicably, a financial professional can determine the current value of collectibles and art, or perform appraisals.
One of the first things your financial professional will delve into is determining income. Many spouses try to hide earnings, especially if their line of work involves cash much of the time. Skilled forensic accountants will look for under-reported income, fraudulent debt, overpayment to creditors or payroll padding.
A forensic accountant usually can ferret out the truth more quickly, and less expensively, than your divorce attorney doing that same work on his own.
Additionally, the financial professional’s job includes determining which assets are shared and which are unique to one party. Shoddy recordkeeping makes this a time-consuming chore. But an expert forensic accountant is trained to inventory and sort these moving pieces. He or she will examine the total financial picture, and many times this person is able to testify in court.
In the end, your financial professional on your team follows the money. He or she investigates incomes, liabilities, property, bank accounts, valuations and debts. When the investigation is complete, a good forensic accountant delivers everything in the format required by the court.
When alimony and child support are on the line, make sure you get the most accurate financial picture possible. Get a financial professional on your divorce team.
Disclaimer: This website and blog contains general information about legal issues and developments in the law. The contents are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These materials are not intended as legal advice for any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal issues.