Role of Forensic Accountants in Divorce Cases



What is a Forensic Accountant?

A forensic accountant is somebody whose profession is a mix between investigation and accounting. These specialists play crucial roles in fraud investigations, legal proceedings, and high asset divorce dispute resolutions. They dig into and examine financial records and transactions. They commonly work for insurance companies, financial institutions and law enforcement.

Why Are They Needed in Divorce Cases?

When dividing property and assets in a complex high-asset divorce case, a forensic accountant plays a role in analyzing documents and finding hidden assets to help the court determine equal child and support payments, as well as how to divide shared assets.

During the discovery stage, the forensic accountant works with your high asset divorce attorney  to ensure that all the proper and needed documents are gathered from the other side. This includes tax records, bank records, contracts, and other financial documents. Your accountant will then value all your assets, such as property, businesses, monthly cash flow, and expenses.

Essentially, your forensic accountant will:

  • Uncover your ex-spouse’s unethical practices
    • Ex. hidden assets, fake debts, underreporting income, etc
  • Conducting appraisals to your assets
    • Determining what your assets are worth
    • House valuation, business valuation, retirements, etc.
  • Explaining tax implications
    • Decisions you make during divorce will have tax implications
    • Ex. Taking the house during divorce will have heavy tax implications
  • Act as an expert witness
    • Testify findings in court if need be
  • Tracing ownership of assets
    • Is an asset shared or separate?
  • Reviewing ex-spouses’ financial evidence
    • Develop a strategy to combat claims made by the opposing side
  • Estimating potential child and/or spousal support payments
  • Tracing past payments

How Much Do Forensic Accountants Cost?

Depending on how complex the case is, it can vary, but usually $300 to $500 per hour. Some cases don’t always need a forensic accountant, so it is ultimately up to you if you decide to hire one to work on your high asset divorce case, but you can ask your lawyer for suggestions.