A Forensic Accountant Could Help Your Divorce

A Forensic Accountant Could Help Your Divorce

By: M. Scott Gordon

Property division in a Chicago divorce can be extremely complicated and incredibly contentious. In high net worth divorces, properly classifying marital assets and assigning appropriate values to those assets can be an intricate and sometimes convoluted process. This process only becomes more difficult when there are concerns one spouse is attempting to hide assets, or one spouse has not properly disclosed information about assets and liabilities. In numerous divorce cases involving complex property division, a forensic accountant could help your divorce.

We want to provide you with more information about forensic accountants and to discuss the various ways in which a forensic accountant may be helpful during your divorce process.

What is a Forensic Accountant?

When you hear a forensic accountant could be helpful in your divorce, you may be wondering: What is a forensic accountant? According to the Forensic CPA Society, forensic accounting “is the specialty practice area that describes engagements that result from actual or anticipated disputes or litigation.” A forensic accountant has expertise in both accounting and auditing and has experience with financial investigation.

Forensic accountants frequently are hired in a variety of civil lawsuits, particularly those involving business and asset valuation, concerns about financial fraud and negligence claims in where it is necessary to quantify a person’s losses. Forensic accountants have particular experience drawing connections between accounting and legal matters. To be clear, while forensic accountants have similar accounting training to other types of accountants, they specialize in investigating financial situations, quantifying evidence and other information in lawsuits.

Why Should I Work With a Forensic Accountant in My Divorce?

Forensic accountants frequently are hired in high asset divorces and any divorce matter in which there are complex assets. For example, if a married couple owns a business together or own other intangible property, a forensic accountant can help with a valuation. In short, forensic accountants will go through a wide variety of documents and materials related to your finances before, during, and after your marriage. This typically involves investigating investments, bank accounts, credit card statements, tax returns, recorded property deed and other related materials.

The following are examples of situations in which a forensic accountant’s financial knowledge and investigative skills may be able to provide you with valuable resources:

  • Valuing a jointly owned business;
  • Assessing complex finances, such as stock options;
  • Searching for hidden assets;
  • Reviewing retirement accounts;
  • Reviewing insurance policies;
  • Determining whether there are inconsistencies in either spouse’s separate property or marital property.
  • Accounting for tangible property of high value, such as antique furniture or an art collection;
  • Appraising jointly owned real estate; and
  • Providing clear data for determining the spouses’ personal expenses.

The information provided by a forensic accountant can help to classify property as separate or marital, can help to show the amount of spousal support is appropriate in a particular case, can help to value complex property and can prove assets were hidden to avoid property division.

Contact a Divorce Attorney in Chicago

If you have complex property, regardless of whether you will have a high net worth divorce, you should speak with a Chicago divorce lawyer about whether a forensic accountant may be able to help with your case. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC for more information.