Divorce is never easy, and it’s especially difficult if you have a spouse who is hiding money and assets from you. If your spouse is especially wily, this may include a large sum of money and been going on for several years.
Even in amicable divorces, splitting assets and debts can include vested or unvested stock options, deferred compensation plans, businesses or professional practices, trusts, accounts and properties in different states or even countries.
That’s why you need a forensic accountant on your team. Not only can such an accountant sift through the legal aspects of a complicated divorce, they can sniff out fraud or evasive behavior.
Some common tactics
A forensic accountant has the ability to look at tax records and business documents to find any inconsistencies that may point to nefarious behavior.
Some of these methods include:
- Padding payroll
- Overpaying creditors
- Creating fake debt
- Underreporting income
- Buying expensive items with cash
Not only can forensic accountants see these tactics being employed, but they can ferret out the true income so a proper settlement can be negotiated, and can also testify in court as to the nature of the finances as they were presented to divorce attorneys.
Separate property in Florida
Florida is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning that during a divorce, distribution of the assets has to be fair even if it’s not exactly even. Property that doesn’t need to be divided during a divorce includes:
- Assets and debts defined as separate property in a prenuptial agreement
- Income from a separate property that hasn’t been comingled and treated as marital property
- Things exchanged or bought with proceeds from separate property
Everything else is marital property. A forensic accountant can help determine what is separate property, what has been comingled during the marriage, what is marital property and if it should be divided.
By using these tactics, a forensic accountant can be a valuable member of your divorce team. If you are planning to start divorce proceedings or feel overwhelmed by the financial aspects of your current divorce, contact an experienced, qualified attorney to help you get through this very difficult time.