Do You Need a Forensic Accountant for Your Virginia Divorce?
Divorce is never easy, but the process of asset distribution can take an emotional toll on the process. Virginia follows the majority of other states in its equitable distribution of marital assets and debts during a divorce. This means the state looks at marriage as an “economic partnership,” and when that partnership is over, there should be a fair division once all debts and property are disclosed. But, what happens when one party is hiding assets and not disclosing everything? Then you may need to retain the services of a forensic accountant who can help uncover hidden assets.
What is Forensic Accounting?
Forensic accountants are not only accountants, they are auditors and experienced investigators. The word “forensic” refers to their work product being approved for use in the courtroom. Forensic accountants often testify as experts in court.
The discipline of forensic accounting stems from anticipated litigation. In non-family law cases, forensic accountants are charged with calculating damages and potential losses in breach of contract cases or they testify in disputes regarding business valuations or mergers and acquisitions. On the criminal side, they often assess activities and accounting practices related to fraud cases.
Why Would You Need a Forensic Accountant in Your Divorce?
Using a forensic accountant during a divorce is not limited to situations where it appears one spouse is hiding assets. Their services are important in complex dissolutions with a complicated or high net worth. Some assets are harder to distribute, and that is where the use of forensic accountants may be useful. Retirement accounts, deferred compensation, insurance policies, stocks, and other business arrangements may be hard for a judge to divide equitably. Some assets need an appraisal before they can be divided. Assets that require an appraisal would be things like original works of art, antiquities, and very rare collectibles. If you have marital property that is outside Virginia, a forensic accountant can provide a valuation here as well.
Situations with Hiding Assets
Retaining a skilled Virginia family law attorney can make a huge difference in ensuring your rights are protected during a contested divorce. We all hope our soon-to-be ex would not hide assets, but anger and fear of losing money are driving forces in unscrupulous behavior during a divorce. Some possible methods you might see used for hiding income and/or assets are:
- Payroll padding
- Phony debt creation
- Creating a dummy corporation to hide assets
- Buying things with private money stashed away
In scenarios like these, forensic accountants utilize their skills and past experience to look for hidden assets and bank accounts. The associated fees for using a forensic accountant can be high, but when you’re dealing with a complex asset portfolio, they can keep your ex from trying to withhold money you’re entitled to.
Call a Leesburg Divorce Attorney
If you’re struggling through an asset distribution, or you’re getting ready to file for divorce, retaining a skilled Leesburg divorce lawyer can ensure you and your assets are protected. Contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy to schedule a consultation.