In high asset divorces, in particular, property division can be a contentious and extremely complicated process. Yet complex property division should not mean that you have to worry about whether your spouse is attempting to hide assets, or whether your spouse is making efforts to avoid having to give up certain types of marital property in the divorce. When you file for divorce in Michigan, Michigan law requires you to provide clear documentation about all marital assets and debts, as well as information about property you own that will be classified as separate property (and not subject to division). Although you may be able to obtain many of the financial documents you need for your divorce, you should consider the benefits of hiring a forensic accountant.
An article in Forbes explains some of the benefits of having a forensic accountant on your side during a high net worth divorce. Thinking about those benefits, we have a list of five ways a forensic accountant can help with your divorce.
1. Making Sense of Financial Documents
In some divorces, when one of the spouses has control over most of the finances in the marriage and most of the assets, it can be difficult for the other spouse to make sense of a lot of the documents that the breadwinner spouse provides. Indeed, as the Forbes article suggests, in some situations the paperwork the spouse does provide is often so disorganized and confusing that it is nearly impossible to sort through.
2. Determining Your Spouse’s Actual Income
If your spouse has a business that handles a lot of cash, it may be difficult to determine what your spouse’s actual income is (and easier for your spouse to avoid providing the court with the actual income). A forensic accountant can help to determine your spouse’s actual income.
3. Locating Hidden or Withheld Assets
One of the most common reasons a person hires a forensic accountant in a divorce case is out of concern that the other spouse is trying to hide assets. There are various ways to hide assets, from failing to report income, creating false documentation of purchase dates (suggesting that particular assets were purchased prior to the marriage), and gifting assets to friends or family members to avoid having it classified and distributed in the divorce. A forensic accountant can help to locate any hidden or withheld assets.
4. Identifying Unethical Financial Practices
As the Forbes article intimates, there are numerous unethical financial practices that a forensic accountant can reveal, including “padding payroll,” “overpaying creditors,” and even “purchasing expensive items with secreted cash.”
5. Valuing Complex Property
While you may need to hire a separate appraiser or valuation expert depending upon the type of marital assets and debts in your divorce, the Forbes article emphasizes that forensic accountants often have the experience necessary to value certain kinds of property. As such, your forensic accountant may be able to provide important information about the value of a business for purposes of dividing it in your divorce case.
Contact a Divorce Attorney in Michigan
Complex property division can be extremely confusing in a Michigan divorce, especially when one of the spouses does not have particular knowledge about or access to the couple’s financial documents. An aggressive divorce attorney in Michigan can discuss your options for working with a forensic accountant and moving forward with your divorce case. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today to speak with a family law advocate.