You likely already know that when you divorce, Florida law requires that you and your spouse divide your marital assets fairly and equitably between you. However, what if your spouse decides to hide some of your marital assets so they do not become part of your property settlement agreement and he or she therefore gets a windfall? Do you have any realistic hope of finding these hidden assets so as to receive your rightful share of them?
Unfortunately, spousal asset hiding occurs all too frequently in high-asset divorces. Moreover, given the almost unlimited opportunities that vindictive or greedy spouses have nowadays to hide assets online and electronically, the likelihood of you discovering them without professional assistance is low. Help is available, however, in the person of a forensic accountant.
Forensic accountant aptitudes
A forensic accountant receives more education than ordinary accountants and even most CPAs. This training prepares forensic accountants to investigate complex financial situations and records for the specific purpose of finding and gathering evidence to use in a court setting.
Should you and your attorney decide to enlist the services of a forensic accountant, look for one whose track record shows that he or she can do the following:
- Look for hidden-asset red flags in your spouse’s banking, investment, business, real estate, accounting and cash flow records
- Track down hidden assets, especially those hidden electronically
- Analyze those assets, once found, to determine their nature and value
- Track those assets to determine from where they originated, where they now are and how much they have appreciated in value since first hidden
Expert witness services
Your forensic accountant does not finish his or her job after finding, tracking and analyzing your spouse’s hidden assets. Instead, he or she will likely need to act as your expert witness at your divorce hearing.
A judge — and jury, if you have one — are probably laymen when it comes to understanding financial terminology and complicated financial mechanisms. Therefore, the forensic accountant will need to explain everything regarding your financial situation, especially the hidden assets aspect, in clear, concise and understandable English that the court can easily understand.