What is a forensic accountant, and when should one be used in divorce or legal separation proceedings? A forensic accountant is a hybrid of an investigator and an accountant. The typical forensic accountant holds a traditional accounting degree, which provides core knowledge in the area of accounting, as well as investigations training, which enables the performance of effective, enhanced investigations. Forensic accounting can be critical in locating, classifying, and valuing assets and debts.
Divorce and separation proceedings provide for the winding up, so to speak, of a couple’s marriage. In these proceedings, all assets and debts are identified and divided, and provisions are often made for spousal or partner support, as well as child support. For the winding up to be fair and equitable, all assets and debts must be identified. This can be difficult in any case, as our economy becomes more diversified and global. A forensic accountant may be used in complex matters, such as helping to identify and value retirement plans, stock options, trusts, deferred compensation plans, and business interests.
Additional challenges will be present if one spouse is intentionally untruthful in an attempt to understate income or overstate debt, such as in the following examples:
- Attempting to show less income or fewer assets;
- Hiding income or cash streams;
- Transferring or hiding assets;
- Padding business payroll; and
- Creating fictitious debts or overstating debts.
In cases such as these, the use of a forensic accountant is essential to ensure that you receive proper treatment with regard to support awards and property division. These specialized accountants are experts in tracing funds, and they exercise great discretion in determining where to look for hidden assets and overstated debt. After all, if a court doesn’t know about an asset, it can’t divide it. What’s more, a forensic accountant will present his findings in court, with the assistance of your experienced attorney.
Judy L. Burger’s experience as an aggressive family lawyer is paired with an extensive business background, an invaluable combination in contested divorce and separation proceedings. If you need the assistance of a lawyer who is not afraid to fight in court and who understands complicated financial issues, call her today at (415) 293-8314 or visit her online.