If you put to one side the emotional and personal aspects of a divorce, it is simply a process in which the assets and debts of two people are divided. In principle, this should follow a fairly standard course as certain elements such as the bank accounts, credit card debt, the house, cars and other possessions can theoretically be easily split.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that money is often a very contentious issue throughout divorce proceedings, and each partner may not trust the word of the other in terms of revealing the extent of their assets.
So what do you do if you are getting a divorce, but you are worried that your former partner is not being honest about their wealth?
When partners have significant assets through various and complex channels,t can be very difficult to keep track of the numbers. This is where it can be valuable to call on the services of forensic accounting specialists. Forensic accountants can use techniques to ascertain the extent of the assets of your partner.
Here we take a closer look at whether you need one for your divorce proceedings.
What is a forensic accountant?
Firstly, it should be pointed out that forensic accountantd work with more than just divorces. They are often called in to provide companies with information about a potential partner or when the financial report for your business doesn’t seem to add up. They use accounting knowledge and techniques to investigate legal issues.
In terms of a divorce, this could include any situation where you believe your partner is deliberately hiding money and assets. Doing so would mean that they are not included in the divorce settlement and therefore would not be divided equally.
However, it should also be pointed out that forensic accountants are not exclusively brought in to deal with potential crimes. These specialists can also be used to attempt to resolve disputes between marital partners who cannot agree on how assets have been spent or used.
How forensic accountants work
Your forensic accountant will talk through the process with you, so that they understand what you are trying to establish and can ascertain the best way to do it. They will then examine financial records in order to attempt to uncover any assets or income that have been hidden or suspiciously transferred. They have the specific skillset for the role thanks to their understanding of financial documents, as well as their knowledge of accounting techniques and those methods used to attempt to hide transactions.
The process of detecting deferred or hidden income can be extremely complicated, but forensic accountants can use a range of effective techniques to uncover exactly what has been going on. This could include the analysis of bank deposits and also looking into the details of reported income against expenditure, to determine if the level is what you would expect. This can then be used as evidence in the legal case.
Do YOU need a forensic accountant?
Divorces can get ugly when there are disputes regarding money and assets. But if you feel that your former partner is not being honest,or is attempting to hide something from the proceedings, it is your right to get something done about it. This is when it’s the right time to get a forensic accountant involved in the case.
It’s very common in marriages for one partner to have a more direct control of money management – and it’s even more common for each spouse to not have a full understanding of the other’s entire financial situation. This means that that in many divorce cases, one partner will have an advantage of the other in terms of getting a preferential deal as they can use their knowledge of their assets. It is certainly advisable in any situation where a spouse is suspected of attempting to conceal some aspect of their income or assets, or if a spouse is simply not willing to be forthcoming with the extent of their current assets.
Seek advice from your solicitor about whether a forensic accountant could be useful in your situation, and make sure you choose a firm with a strong reputation for dealing with similar cases.
Written by Mike James, an independent writer who spoke to forensic accounting specialists Wellden Turnbull.
Published on 17th July 2017
(Last updated 1st November 2017)