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What Is Forensic Accounting and How Can It Help in Your Divorce?

  • Apr 19, 2019
  • The Harr Law Firm

At Harr Law, we utilize a team of experts in varying fields to assist in high-asset divorce cases and other complex legal matters. But when it comes to the complex financial questions that often surround divorces—including proper asset division and determining payment amounts for alimony and child support—few of our specialists are as valuable as our forensic accountants. So who are these experts, and why do we employ their knowledge in high-asset divorces, or other divorces involving particularly complex financial matters? Here’s what you should know.

What Is Forensic Accounting?

Forensic accounting differs from standard accounting in one important way—the findings of a forensic accountant’s work is considered suitable for use in a court of law, and so it is upheld to very strict standards regarding how the accounting and investigative work is conducted.

Our expert forensic accountants are trained to apply both investigative and analytical skills in order to resolve any financial issues, and to do so in a way that meets the standards of a court of law. They utilize specialized skills, not only in accounting, but in auditing and finance, quantitative methods, research and investigation, and certain areas of the law so that they can discover, analyze, and evaluate the finances surrounding your divorce case. Then, they can interpret the evidence and communicate their findings to provide expert testimony in court.

How Is This Applied in Divorce?

Forensic accountants are utilized in many parts of the law, including cases of fraud, money laundering, bankruptcy, and business reorganization. When it comes to divorce, however, a forensic accountant’s primary task is usually to ensure that all assets are accounted for and properly valued, in order to assist in the asset division portion of your divorce case.

They are most commonly used in high-asset divorces, which frequently involve widely varied asset holdings with large values. However, we also employ their expertise for any divorce that involves a complex financial matter. Here are a few examples.

Finding Hidden Assets

No matter how high their value, if you believe your spouse has hidden assets during divorce proceedings, are forensic accountants are quite skilled at discovering those assets. This may include personal items of value that they didn’t account for, properties that weren’t reported to the court, or cash that was moved out of accounts before divorce proceedings began. Whatever you believe your spouse may be hiding, our team of forensic accountants and legal professionals can likely find it.

Business Valuation and Division

When spouses co-own a business, the asset division process can become quite complex very quickly. It’s important to utilize a forensic accountant in such cases, and for many reasons. Firstly, you want to ensure that the business is valued properly, so that you receive your share of the business assets, or are paid the proper amount of money should you choose to sell your share in the business. Additionally, a business can provide an easy means for your spouse to hide other assets, including cash, so a forensic accountant will be more likely to discover such activity amid the business’s financial reports.

Valuation of Other Assets

It is not only businesses that need to be properly valued in a divorce—especially a high-asset divorce case. If you and/or your spouse own any items of high value, such as art collections, antiques, collectibles, etc., then a professional should be utilized. They can take stock of such items, ensure everything is accounted for, and have the items properly appraised and valued for the asset division process.

Determining Personal Expenses

Another area in which a forensic accountant can prove useful is in determining personal expenses—for both you and your spouse. This is an essential step in determining alimony and/or child support payments. A forensic accountant can help to assemble reasonable finances for your spouse based on past financial activity so that your spouse can’t report inflated expenses in an attempt to make smaller support payments. Additionally, a list of accurate personal expenses for you and/or your children will help to ensure you receive enough support payments to maintain a semblance of your current lifestyle.

There are many ways in which our forensic accountants can assist in your divorce, especially if your divorce includes any of the instances mentioned above, or if it is a high-asset divorce case. If you have any questions about our forensic accountants or the other professionals we utilize on our team, please feel free to reach out to us.