The involvement of a forensic accountant in a marital dissolution can be a necessary and useful tool. We frequently utilize forensic accountants on our cases to determine a party’s cash flow for purposes of support, to value business interests, to assist on complex financial tracing issues and occasionally in preparing marital balance sheets.
When someone is self-employed, we will frequently have our clients retain a forensic accountant to determine the cash flow of our client or their spouse from a business. In those situations, a person’s cash flow available for support is determined to be what they are being provided as income from the business, distributions from the business, plus any personal benefits that they are deriving from the business, such as payment for meals, entertainment, health insurance or other personal expenses by the business. A forensic account can also be useful in determining an individual’s cash flow when there are issues related to investment income.
In addition, when somebody is a business owner, and there is a community interest in that business, we will utilize a forensic accountant to value the community’s interest in the business. This can become somewhat complex in that frequently the individual will own a business prior to marriage. This would be that person’s separate property. However, to the extent the business increases in value during marriage, there can be a community interest. The highly skilled forensic accountants that we utilize are very familiar with valuing such interests and can be of tremendous assistance in determining these interests.
We also encounter issues related to the commingling of community and separate property interests in financial accounts, real estate and other assets. In this regard, it is not uncommon that we will have our client retain a forensic accountant to perform any necessary tracing of separate or community property interest.
Finally, on some of the more complex community estates that we encounter, we will have the client engage a forensic accountant to prepare a community property balance sheet.
While a forensic accountant will obviously charge for their services, frequently using them can save the clients a significant amount in attorney’s fees. In particular, the fees for a forensic accountant are usually less expensive than for an attorney. Furthermore, these individuals are highly specialized in the aforementioned assets and can get us the answers to any questions we have concerning an · individual’s cash flow, the value of a business, tracing issues, or balancing a community estate.
Please contact us to discuss any issues you may have concerning the utilization of a forensic accountant or any other Family Law issues you may have.