Using a forensic accountant to uncover hidden assets in a divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2020 | Firm News |

Illinois law requires both parties to a divorce to make a complete and accurate of their assets and debts. Unhappily, one or both parties to a divorce may attempt to conceal assets from the other party and the court, thereby obtaining a larger share of the marital estate than would otherwise be allowed by the court. Many spouses are able to detect an attempt to hide assets by the other spouse, but occasionally, the method used to conceal marital assets is so clever that it requires the services of a CPA or attorney trained in forensic accounting to ensure that all assets have been discovered.

Tax returns often provide significant clues to whether the other spouse is hiding assets. Deciphering a tax return can be complex. A forensic accountant can help spot clues in the various schedules are attached to Form 1040. Schedule A is a list of the couple’s itemized deductions. Deducting an unexpectedly high level of property taxes may reveal real estate holdings that have not been disclosed. Schedule B is used to report interest and dividends. If the numbers on one or more Schedule B’s differ significantly from information known to one spouse, the difference may signify undisclosed securities or other investments. Schedules C, D and E can also provide useful information.

Some people attempt to hide assets by depositing money in banks in foreign countries. A forensic accountant knows how to find those bank accounts and obtain helpful information from the bank or other financial institution. Documents provided at a mortgage loan closing or real estate purchase closing may likewise reveal information about hidden assets.

A knowledgeable forensic accountant or lawyer will have information on the wide variety of schemes used to hide assets in a contested divorce. A conference with such an expert before the news of the impending divorce is disclosed to the other spouse may be a significant aid in preventing the spouse from hiding even more assets.