When most people think of a forensic accountant, they think of someone who is particularly skilled at tracking down hidden assets. While that is true, in most cases forensic accountants are hired to help with the division of marital property.
When a couple’s finances are complex, it can be more difficult to assess the value of all the assets that may be entangled in the division of marital property. While your attorney can advise you on most property division and support issues, a forensic accountant is sometimes necessary to get to the heart of asset value so you know how much is at stake in your split.
Here are some areas where a forensic accountant may be particularly helpful:
When you own a business. It must be determined what type of asset the business is — marital property that is jointly owned, separate property that belongs to one spouse and is not subject to division, or a combination of both? The dollar value of the business must also be determined, taking into consideration the company’s assets, income, debts, liabilities, and potential future earnings. This can be complicated by intangible assets like corporate goodwill that must also be valued.
When there are corporate benefits. Valuing vested and unvested stock options or other benefits from long-term corporate benefit plans can be a challenge unless you have a forensic accountant do the necessary financial modeling and projections to arrive at a true value.
When there is a dissipation claim. If one spouse has been spending large amounts of money on something that did not benefit the other spouse — for example, a gambling habit or extramarital affair — the other spouse may have grounds for a dissipation claim. A forensic accountant can examine financial statements to determine the amount of marital funds that have been dissipated and recommend compensation.
When there is a need to determine income. Tax returns do not necessarily tell the whole story of a couple’s income. If one spouse owns a business, there are numerous ways to defer or hide income. A forensic accountant can examine financial data to determine a couple’s true income picture, which is necessary for determining alimony, child support, or other financial obligations.
When a settlement may be impacted by taxes. There are usually tax consequences in every divorce. If a support or settlement award is not structured properly, there could be adverse tax implications for one or both spouses.
When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of an experienced family law attorney often proves crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter. Contact us today for your free consultation.