How forensic accountants save you money in divorce
Before exploring how a forensic accountant can save you money in a divorce, it is necessary to understand what a forensic account’s job title entails and why someone qualified as a forensic accountant can testify in court on your behalf even though they have not been an eye witness to your case. A forensic account is a person who is educated, trained, and licensed to investigate the financial and business affairs of an individual both on a personal level and when a business is involved with a divorce case. Accounting, auditing, and financial document analysis are important parts of the investigation. When the forensic accountant has finished their investigation, they will submit a full report of their findings. As a forensic accountant is considered an expert witness by the courts, they will testify their findings during the hearing. An expert witness, according to the online Legal Dictionary.com, is “a person who is a specialist in a subject, often technical, who may present his/her expert opinion without having been witness to any occurrence relating to the lawsuit or criminal case.”
Often the most heated parts of a divorce involve money or items of value, including alimony, child support, and distribution of marital assets and liabilities. In Florida, marital assets and liabilities are divided equitably, which means fair, not necessarily equal. For example, one party may be awarded the yacht while the other is awarded the summer cottage. Another example would be the awarding of alimony based on income and need. In both these examples, should a party hide true financial information, an award could be made unfairly.
Each party will be required to give an in-depth financial accounting as part of the divorce proceedings. There can also be interrogatories, discovery, depositions, and orders to produce, which will look deeply into the financial status of a party. While it would be nice if everyone told the truth, this is not always a reality, and sometimes there will be a need to hire a forensic account to find out what is really going on in a party’s financial world. Of course, there will be a cost for this service, but the results will often more than cover the expense.
Some of the tactics a party may use to reduce their income to, for example, try to lower alimony or receive more, or pay less or receive more child support, can include changing jobs for less pay, giving money and marital assets to a third party to “hold,” using two sets of books in a business (one for the owner and one for the IRS), inventing a special need for a child, or inflating their cost of living. With the use of audits, financial document analysis, and various investigative tools, a forensic account can uncover situations designed to falsify a party’s financial status.
In addition to learning the truth about a person’s financial history, sometimes a forensic accountant will be used to determine the actual living standard of a party and the true needs of a spouse or minor child.
For example, by going into the financial records and creating an ongoing scenario of money spent, say on medical or living expenses, a true picture of a child’s health or a party’s lifestyle can become apparent. When these facts are presented to the judge, they will help determine fair monetary compensation in the form of alimony (if needed) and child support.
In many divorce cases, especially what are termed “high end,” a forensic accountant will be a great help to the attorney in creating a true picture of the marital financial situation. Both marital assets and liabilities will formulate a huge part of a client’s case, and the testimony of a forensic accountant as an expert witness can make a big monetary difference in the outcome an attorney is trying to obtain for their client. Too, if it can be shown that a party was initially hiding or falsifying financial information, a judge will not be pleased, and this information can influence their final decision in favor of the wronged party.
Attorney Grant Gisondo, a board-certified Family Law attorney serving the Florida counties of Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, and Hillsborough, and Washington DC and New York, has successfully been helping clients for over a decade and has often used the services of a forensic accountant. If you are considering a divorce Attorney Gisondo offers a free, initial, in-office consultation where he will answer general questions, discuss fees, and give you a chance to get to know him. You can call his office for an appointment at (561) 530-4568. His office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and for new clients on Saturday from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. If you want to know more about Attorney Gisondo and his law practice, please visit his website at https://gisondolaw.com.