What Is the Role of a Forensic Accountant in a Divorce?

The complexities of divorce seem to touch on everything. There are emotional, legal, and financial implications of divorce and it can be a great deal to try and confront all at once. The financial impacts of divorce can be both substantial and far-reaching. It can be critical to your financial well-being to help ensure that assets are properly valued and accounted for during divorce proceedings. Without an accurate picture of your financial holdings during a marriage, it will be next to impossible for a court to be able to help ensure that you get your fair share. That is where forensic accountants come in. In a divorce, for several reasons, a forensic accountant can prove very valuable.

Forensic Accountant in a Divorce

Forensic accountants probably are most prominently thought of when considering divorces where one spouse fears that the other spouse may be less than forthcoming with accurate financial information or may be hiding assets, such as funneling expenses through a business to paint an inaccurate financial picture. Sometimes, a spouse will try and hide assets so they are not subject to division during divorce. Other times, parties may not remember assets or did not keep records of assets so they remain hidden even where there is no intent for them to be as such. A forensic accountant can find both intentionally and unintentionally hidden assets and income so that they are included in relevant divorce calculations. 

A forensic accountant is usually tasked with sifting through extensive amounts of financial records including:

  • Tax returns
  • Accounting records
  • Financial statements
  • Bank statements
  • Canceled checks
  • Sales invoices
  • Credit card statements

This includes both personal and business records relating to the parties to the divorce. With the skilled and knowledgeable eye that a forensic accountant can bring to the table, several things can be accomplished in addition to revealing hidden assets and income, such as:

  • Discovering inconsistencies in financial documentation
  • Corroborating financial and non-financial information
  • Assessing whether personal expenses were included as business expenses (which can impact the proper valuation of a business)
  • Determine the value of a business or a spouse’s business interests
  • Calculate cash flow for purposes of spousal and child support payments
  • Tracing to determine which property should be deemed separate and which should be considered marital or “community” property.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

In sum, a forensic accountant can be an asset in revealing essential information as you prepare for divorce. At Orlando Family Team, we are committed to using available resources to help protect the best interests of our clients. We know that the financial impacts of divorce cannot be understated. It is a big shift in anyone’s financial life and we are dedicated to helping ensure that you are set up for a successful financial future way beyond when your divorce is finalized. Contact us today.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.