Matrimonial Actions, Marital Dissolution, Divorce, whatever we call it, the process is not fun and emotions usually run hot. As a result, divorce litigation can become very sticky and often revolves around money and asset valuations. Forensic Accountants are becoming more prevalent in these types of cases where large dollars are involved. They have the ability to ascertain monetary values, find hidden assets, and make objective factual observations which the spouses and their attorneys may not be able to otherwise.
Divorce lawsuits often require review of financial statements, tax returns, property appraisals, bank statements, mortgage and financing instruments, tracing assets for characterization of separate or community property, and much more. If Trusts are involved, that adds a whole new level of complexity which lawyers, judges, and average citizens cannot comprehend without the help of Forensic Accounting Experts.
Often one or both spouses will have full or part-ownership in a business. That business is considered a separate entity which must be valued based upon its assets, liabilities, retained earnings, ongoing cash flow, customer-base, technology, future obsolescence, and other factors. The litigants and their representatives are rarely qualified to render valuations and whatever opinion they have would be considered prejudicial. The courts and jurors must have impartial and objective outside opinions to render fair judgments. When a Forensic Accountant or CPA is brought in and provides a very clear and reasonable valuation of assets and tracings of ownership, often the spouses will see the light and settle their dispute.
- Scales of Justice and Courtroom Gavel
If one spouse hires a Forensic Accountant, then often the other will need one also to review, analyze and possibly rebut some opinions of the other expert. I’ve seen cases were one spouse fabricated documents to trick a CPA into believing that the present tracings were accurate, when they were not. Often only another trained Forensic Expert can ascertain fraud, trickery, and deception.
Besides helping to find hidden bank accounts, mischaracterized assets and transactions, a Forensic Accountant will review tax returns for potential mistakes and future liabilities which may affect both spouses. It’s amazing how many cases will involve unreported taxable income by one spouse, unknown to the other, which could sink their entire ship. When this is the case, a Forensic Accountant may also save you from criminal tax fraud charges which include time in prison.
Feel free to view some of my blog posts on this topic: