If you are headed for a high-asset California divorce, arriving at a fair and equitable division of your marital assets likely is one of your biggest concerns, second only to that of the post-divorce custody arrangements for your children. Your property settlement concerns increase if you believe your spouse is hiding assets from you.
Depending on the diversity and extent of your marital property, your spouse can devise many ways by which to hide assets. In addition, (s)he can enlist the help of friends, relatives and business associates and acquaintances. In situations such as these, your best strategy for finding and tracking assets is to talk with your attorney about hiring a forensic accountant.
Qualifications and skills
A forensic accountant is a person whose education, training and experience qualify him or her as an expert in the art of dealing with complex financial situations. Many forensic accountants hold a CPA certification as well as their other degrees and certifications. Whether your forensic accountant is a CPA or not, you or your attorney should check out his or her background to determine that (s)he possesses the qualifications necessary to do the following:
- Search for, find and track hidden income and assets
- Discover and analyze inconsistencies between and among complex financial documents
- Determine and trace marital versus nonmarital property
- Establish a value for your business and other assets
- Determine, analyze and track cash flow
- Understand and calculate the tax implications of various property divisions
In addition to being able to do the necessary investigative and analysis work, your forensic accountant also needs to be able to clearly explain his or her findings to a judge. In other words, (s)he will act as your expert witness with regard to all financial aspects of your divorce.
Adding a forensic accountant to your legal team can be a costly undertaking, but given his or her specialized knowledge and skill, (s)he may represent your best chance of receiving the marital assets to which you are entitled.