In previous blog posts we have addressed prenups, postnups, and the legally recognized fiduciary duty between spouses in a marriage. For high net worth couples that decide to divorce, the process of reaching a mutually agreed-upon settlement can be complex, even when both partners are on good terms and the effort is collaborative. However, when matters turn contentious, as they often do, or a spouse has not been forthcoming regarding the true state of his or her finances or property, it can become necessary to include a forensic accountant on the other spouse’s divorce team.
A forensic accountant can focus on uncovering unreported or hidden assets. In brief, some areas that can be examined and explored include:
- Standard of living and how it is supported: cash, debt, payment histories
- Reported income, assets, retirement plans, real estate
- Luxury items and payment methods
- If a business is involved, what is its financial state/history/record of salaries, transactions
The path to establishing a complete financial “picture” is not unlike what the IRS might require or investigate. To examine a person’s assets and income, here are some of the documents that might be put under scrutiny:
- Tax returns going back five years before divorce filing
- Personal net worth statements up to three years before divorce filing
- Financial statements of any businesses held or that person has a financial interest in
- Investment documents such as stocks, bonds, options, interest, hedge funds, annuities, retirement accounts, profit-sharing plans, etc.
- Credit card accounts and statements going back three years prior to divorce filing
- Loan amounts, receivables, debt history
The detective work that goes into uncovering hidden assets can make a significant difference in the financial settlement aspect of divorce; whether intentional or unintentional, the concealing of assets adds another level of challenge to the efforts of the divorce team.
Keep in mind that the content of this blog is intended not as legal advice, but only for information and/or discussion purposes. Should you have questions or concerns about how California family law may apply to you, you may wish to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney.
As Orange County’s premier family law specialists, the attorneys at Dinnebier & Demmerle can provide answers to your questions and concerns, clarify and establish your legal rights, and represent you in court. If you would like more information about uncovering hidden assets in a divorce or any other aspect of California family law, please call to set up a consultation. We’re ready to move forward when you are. Just contact us in Tustin at 714-598-3714.