The Role of Forensic Accounting in Divorce Cases

What Is Forensic Accounting?

Forensic accounting is an investigative form of accounting that is often used to audit complex financial data using accounting, auditing, and investigative skills. Forensic accountants are often used in many legal cases to unearth fraud or investigate money-related issues. They can be retained by either a lawyer or an individual party. Retaining a forensic accountant in your divorce case can help ensure a fair division of assets, provide accurate financial information, and more.

When You May Need a Forensic Accountant for Your Divorce

Forensic accountants are especially helpful in divorce cases, especially those involving high-asset or high-net-worth individuals, business valuations, complex property division cases, and/or hidden assets. A forensic accountant can be helpful in your case as they can:

  • Work to uncover hidden assets. Even though there are serious consequences for hiding assets, some people still attempt to conceal assets. To prove the other party is hiding marital assets, a forensic accountant can examine tax returns, bank records, real estate records, court documents, insurance policies, employment applications, and other documents. They can be helpful in searching for hidden income, bank accountants (especially off-shore accounts), or properties.
  • Conduct appraisals. If you or your soon-to-be-ex-spouse own a business or other properties, they can calculate the actual value of the specific asset using financial data and business (or property) records.
  • Calculate child and/or spousal support payments. To accurately determine how much child support or alimony is owed, both parties need to accurately report their income. A forensic accountant can help determine (or verify) each party’s actual income; this can be especially helpful if either spouse is a business owner whose salary may not be easily discernable.
  • Advise you of potential financial liabilities. How assets are divided in a divorce can have serious tax implications, and a forensic accountant can help you understand and prepare for any potential liabilities.
  • Trace the ownership history of your assets. If you need help determining whether an asset is marital or separate or if the asset has been commingled, a forensic accountant can make a determination after investigating and reviewing your accounts.
  • Review reports from the opposing counsel’s expert. If your soon-to-be-ex-spouse also hires a forensic accountant, your accountant can examine (and possibly counter) their findings.
  • Determine how marital funds have been used. Wasteful dissipation occurs when a spouse uses marital funds unauthorized, such as to gamble or find an extramarital affair. If you or the other party make a dissipation claim, a forensic accountant can investigate the validity of this claim.
  • Act as an expert witness. During depositions or in court, a forensic accountant can testify regarding their findings. Their testimony can be very valuable evidence in your case.

How Much Does a Forensic Accountant Cost for Divorce?

Forensic accountants can charge anywhere from $300-$500 per hour. How much they charge can be dependent on their level of experience as well as the complexity of your case.

Get Legal Help

At Kallen Law Firm, LLC, our attorneys have over 45 years of combined legal experience, and we have represented thousands of clients. Known for providing our clients with high-quality representation, we work with our client’s best interests in mind to achieve the best possible case results. Whether you are involved in divorce mediation, litigation, or a collaborative divorce, our team can help you develop a solid case strategy and connect with important expert witnesses.

Need help with your divorce case or family law matter? Contact our firm today online or give us a call at (314) 441-7793. We are here to help you understand and advise you of your legal options and connect with a forensic accountant (when needed).