If you face an impending Florida divorce, your concern about your property settlement agreement probably takes second place only to your concern about custody arrangements for your children. This is especially true if you suspect that your spouse is attempting to hide assets from you so as to skew the property division in his or her favor.
Assuming your suspicions are valid, you and your attorney may have a very difficult time finding your spouse’s hidden assets, let alone tracking them. The more assets you and (s)he accumulated over the years, and the more diverse and complex their nature, the easier it is for your spouse to hide some of them. In addition, asset-hiding spouses often enlist the aid of family members and/or friends in their secret plans. Your best strategy may be to bring your suspicions to the attention of your attorney and discuss the possibility of hiring a forensic accountant.
Forensic accountant qualifications and skills
When hiring a forensic accountant, be sure (s)he has the education, training and experience that qualifies her as an expert when it comes to finding hidden assets. (S)he may or may not be a CPA. Carefully check his or her background to determine if (s)he can do the following:
- Search for, find and track your spouse’s hidden income and assets
- Discover and analyze the inconsistencies between and among his or her complex financial documents
- Determine and trace his or her marital versus nonmarital property
- Establish a value for his or her business and other assets
- Determine, analyze and track his or her cash flow
- Understand and calculate the tax implications of any property division before you agree to it
Remember that your forensic accountant not only will be your “bloodhound,” but also your expert witness at your divorce hearing(s). (S)he therefore must be able to convey complex financial issues and calculations to the judge in a clear and understandable manner.
Forensic accounting services do not come cheaply, but the money you spend now could give and save you considerably more money in the future after you receive the property settlement to which you are entitled.