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Should you add a forensic accountant to your legal team?

Posted on in Firm News

If you and your spouse are a high net worth Texas couple whose marriage appears to be headed to divorce court, you may have suspicions that (s)he is starting to hide assets from you. Unfortunately, many spouses do this prior to a divorce in an attempt to reduce marital assets so as to have this “stash” in addition to the assets they receive in the property settlement agreement.

Due to the nearly infinite number of ways a spouse can hide assets, including electronically, finding and tracking the ones your spouse is hiding can become an almost impossible task. Your best strategy may be to add a forensic accountant to your legal team.

What you should look for

While you might expect that a CPA can find hidden assets, that is not always so. A true forensic accountant, CPA or otherwise, has advanced training that makes him or her an expert in ferreting out hidden assets as part of a court case.

As you conduct your forensic accountant search, look for people who have the requisite education, training and credentials, plus the experience, to be able to accomplish the following:

  • Search for, find and track the assets a spouse may have hidden
  • Determine, track and analyze a spouse’s cash flow
  • Discover and analyze the inconsistencies between and among a spouse’s often highly complex financial documents
  • Establish the value of the businesses and real estate in which a spouse has an ownership interest
  • Determine the extent of a couple’s marital and nonmarital property
  • Understand and calculate the tax implications of various property divisions

Expert witness

In addition to all of the above, look for someone who has excellent communication skills and possesses the ability to clearly and concisely explain complicated financial calculations and concepts to laymen. This is what (s)he will need to do as your expert witness when (s)he accompanies you to court and speaks on your behalf to the judge and/or jury.

Unfortunately, adding a forensic accountant to your legal team may entail paying a substantial fee for his or her professional services. Nevertheless, as with your attorney’s fees, your forensic accountant’s fees represent your investment in the outcome of your divorce and your subsequent post-divorce life.

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