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Forensic accountants can help your divorce case

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A forensic accountant specializes in the auditing, investigation and analysis of financial records involved in anticipated or present litigation. During a divorce in Coral Springs, a number of complex financial issues may arise. A forensic accountant can offer valuable assistance in navigating these issues to achieve a more favorable result for the client. Some of the ways a forensic accountant can help include:

  • Investigation of undisclosed assets and liabilities. Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285 requires that each party in a divorce automatically provide comprehensive financial information to the other, including but not limited to copies of tax returns, bank statements, investment account statements, and documentation regarding ownership of real and personal property. If one party suspects that the other party is withholding some of the financial information to which they are entitled, a forensic accountant may be able to locate it.
  • Valuation of assets and liabilities. Some assets have a finite value. For example, a bank account will have a specific amount of dollars in it. Some assets need to be valuated in order to determine their true worth. This is true for real estate or a business. The value of these assets can rise or fall based on market forces. Real estate may be encumbered by an underwater mortgage. A business may be failing or succeeding. A forensic accountant can analyze assets and liabilities and assign a fair market value to them. This becomes important when attempting to equitably distribute marital assets and liabilities pursuant to Florida Statute 61.075.
  • Alimony analysis. When determining whether a claim for alimony is warranted, Broward County courts are required to consider a number of factors set forth in Florida Statute 61.08. Some of these factors are:
    •    (i) The standard of living established during the marriage;
    •    (ii) The financial resources of each party;
    •    (iii) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award,;
    •    (iv) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.

    Forensic accountants are trained to investigate and organize much of the evidence needed to credibly argue for or against an alimony claim.

  • Financial affidavit preparation. Financial affidavits are required to be filed with the court in most family law proceedings. A financial affidavit is a sworn statement submitted by a party in a divorce which provides a snapshot of the party’s financial situation. Income, expenses, assets and debts are to be listed precisely therein. It is a key document utilized when calculating child support, determining distribution of assets and awarding alimony. The financial affidavit must therefore be scrupulously accurate. If a party knowingly submits a false financial affidavit, that party is committing perjury, a crime punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. Completing a financial affidavit properly can be difficult if the party’s financial situation is complicated. A forensic accountant can help by preparing or amending a financial affidavit draft for the client’s review and signature under oath.

If you are considering hiring a forensic accountant in Coral Springs, do not hesitate to raise the matter with your divorce attorney. Forensic accountants can be expensive, so always ask counsel whether their servies would be useful in your family law case. Stuart N. House, P.A. stands ready to help.

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