With so many divorce professionals out there, it's important to understand who you need to consult with, what exactly they do, and if they're even within your budget.
This post is the first in a series that break's down various experts in the divorce field to provide you with the basics on what everyone does, as well as tips on things you can do on your own.
When it comes to money and assets, more often than not people are transparent. If your spouse isn't being forthcoming about financial information and seems to be avoiding answering questions, you might want to consider hiring someone who can get access to everything jointly owned and individually. Namely, a forensic accountant.
Divorces can be uniquely complex, especially when extensive shared assets, high incomes, or business ownership are involved. If you suspect that your spouse is concealing income or hiding assets, or if your shared assets include complex entities like trusts or businesses that need valuation, you might need to hire an expert to help you asses values. In other instances, if you've always felt disconnected or in the dark about the family finances, a forensic accountant can bring clarity and equip you with the knowledge you need. In all these scenarios, it's all about reaching a fair and equitable division of assets.
If you can't get answers to questions like "What are our shared assets worth?", "Can I get copies of statements for accounts I'm not listed on?", and "I noticed some money was taken out of our account. What are those withdrawls or money transfer for?", you might need to look into hiring a forensic accountant.
Here's a quick breakdown of what a forensic accountants does, how they work with clients, and some cost-effective actions you can take on your own:
What Is A Forensic Accountant And What Do They Do During Divorce? Finding Hidden Asset During Divorce
Think of a forensic accountant as the Sherlock Holmes of marital finances: a detective for untangling even the most elusive financial threads. Their mission? To ensure you receive your fair share of assets. Finding Hidden Asset During Divorce
When hired, a forensic accountant works in tandem with your attorney, making an in-depth analysis of all financial matters, looking for inconsistencies in disclosed income, identifying hidden assets, and valuing complex portfolios.
To give an example, let's say you own a family business and you believe your spouse is downplaying its value to influence the division of assets. A forensic accountant can scrutinize the company's finances, evaluate the business fairly, and ensure that your interests are protected. Their role is to gather all of the financial facts, allowing your attorney to focus on legalities.
Forensic accountants meticulously analyze bank, credit card, and investment account statements, unearthing irregularities that may hint at hidden or undervalued funds. They can uncover money transfers to unknown accounts, inexplicable cash withdrawals, and expenditures related to questionable activities. Basically, they leave no stone and can get access to information that might be nearly impossible to obtain on your own.
How To Become Your Own Investigator
While forensic accountants can be invaluable during divorce proceedings, they might not be necessary for all people, and might prove to be inaccessible due to their high fees. In a lot of cases, you can take take steps to locate and track down missing assets on your own. There are so many resources to utilize these days, with online tools, public records, and your own financial documents at your disposal, you'll have everything you need to dig deeper.
Gather up as much information about your marital accounts and statements and conduct a thorough examination of financial paperwork like bank statements, credit card bills, mortgage papers, tax returns, and investment accounts. This What To Gather worksheet walks you through what to get your hands on. Keep an eye out for irregularities or questionable transactions. Over time, patterns may surface, shedding light on if somethings been hidden or concealed and transactions linked to unknown accounts or properties.
Diving into public records can also reveal hidden assets, like real estate holdings. It might take time and patience, but finding important information on your own is totally possible.
The Power of Evidence in the Divorce Process
If you have financial concerns, start discussing financial concerns with your attorney as soon as possible, but remember that it's crucial to gather concrete evidence to go along with your concerns. Solid proof could include statements showing unexplained withdrawals or receipts for purchases you've never seen. With this kind of information in hand, attorneys are more likely to pursue financial investigations.
Doing sleuthing on your own will cut down on billable hours and position you to better understand if there is something improper going on. While your attorney works for you, you will always best advocate for your financial future.