When dealing with a divorce, financial issues can be one of the biggest battles in the divorce proceedings. In some cases, a spouse may attempt to relocate or hide assets to keep them out of the eyes of the court or divorce attorney. This happens even in uncontested divorces. Hiding assets is an effort to keep the other spouse from taking all or a portion of that asset, whether they worked for it or not. In recent years, there has been no easy way to prevent this. However, the use of forensic accounting is making it nearly impossible to conceal assets.
Forensic accounting is the process of investigating and auditing financial information. This goes beyond a glance at a bank statement or tax returns.
Forensic accountants analyze patterns of spending and “money trails” to find assets that may not have been recovered otherwise. These accountants can also analyze computer data to discover any irregularities or issues with assets. The burden of proof is not left to either spouse. The divorce court will serve a subpoena on the financial institution. That institution must then provide the court with all records about the parties. This ensures that nothing can be hidden or “swept under the rug” by either spouse.
While the accounting process is tedious and lengthy, it can ensure a fair and equitable dissolution of the marriage and leave both parties to start fresh without financial issues still lingering from the marriage.
If you have questions about forensic accounting and whether it can be beneficial to your situation, it is essential to seek the advice of a qualified divorce attorney. Your attorney is an expert in state and local laws as they apply to a divorce case and can give you the most accurate information. Your divorce attorney can also give you advice on how to handle your situation to get the best outcome possible, whether that is more assets, spousal support, or child support. If it is necessary to hire an accountant to assist you, your divorce lawyer will have recommendations for you so you can get the most qualified expert to help with your case. You can then move on with your life with your fair share of your marital assets.
There are a few common places to check for hidden assets. However, that doesn’t mean the process is easy or quick. If you haven’t started the divorce process or joint petition yet, start getting copies of all financial documentation you can find.
The first place to start searching for hidden assets is the tax returns. If they intimidate you, have a tax professional review it with you to make sure that everything on it makes sense to your knowledge. Look for discrepancies between what you know and what the IRS knows. Are there bonuses you didn’t know about? What about taxes on profits you don’t recognize? Tax documents can be a big help in finding hidden assets.
Another area to search is through the mail and file cabinet. Look for investment statements or real estate information. Even something as seemingly small as the name of an institution can point you and your divorce attorney in the right direction.
Collections and other physical items are something that may benefit from a professional evaluation. This is doubly important if you are unfamiliar with the typical value of the things your spouse owns. Take a gun or jewelry collection. It may look all the same to you, but to an enthusiast, there might be something extremely valuable.