What experts might you need in a divorce?

| Oct 28, 2020 | Forensic Divorce |

In a complex or high-asset divorce, there are often issues requiring advice from experts with specialized insight. These experts assist with issues such as business and other asset valuation, income stream analysis, cash flow tracing and others.

Why would you need an expert to analyze or value your assets, income and cash flow? When there is a dispute over the division of your assets, you may need an expert to provide an opinion in the resolution of that dispute. It is common, although not strictly necessary, for both parties to have their own experts.

Business and other asset valuation

Business and asset valuation is one of the areas where people commonly need experts to submit reports and testify. The expert, typically a certified appraiser and/or a forensic accountant, will do a valuation of:

  • A business or professional practice
  • Investment real estate
  • Valuable collectibles, such as wine or artwork
  • Personal property, such as jewelry or antiques
  • Yachts or airplanes
  • Deferred compensation plans
  • Intellectual property

The expert you bring in should be sufficiently specialized to provide a credible appraisal of the assets in question. They should have a clear understanding of the current and expected markets. Real estate appraisers should ideally be brokers who are familiar with the local markets.

Income stream and lifestyle analysis

Depending on the complexity of your assets, you may lack a clear picture of your actual cash flow or income. You may need to bring in a forensic accountant or similar expert to determine what cash you have available to pay expenses and the sources of that cash.

Your expert may also be able to help you understand potential tax liabilities and benefits available to the family. And, the expert should be able to examine your spending to come to a clear understanding of your expenditures for the purposes of calculating support obligations.

Cash flow tracing

Before assets can be divided, they typically must be categorized as marital or separate property. For example, property acquired before the marriage may be the separate property of the spouse who acquired it, although any increase in value may be attributed to the couple. If you can categorize property as your own separate property, it will not be divided.

However, it can be a challenge to show that the property has truly been separate. This can require cash flow tracing, which shows the source of specific amounts of cash.

Hidden asset tracing

A forensic accountant or another expert may also be able to discover income and assets that your spouse has not revealed. Assets are sometimes not listed simply because they are unusual or difficult to find. In other cases, the omissions may be intentional.

Your expert can examine tax returns, financial statements, spending patterns, property registers and other documents in an effort to identify assets and income that have not been revealed during the divorce process.

Hire the right expert

In some cases, your own divorce attorney may also be a CPA and have the ability to assist with these matters. In others, you will need an expert who can be brought in to testify in court. You may need more than one expert in a particularly complex divorce. Your attorney can assist you in finding the appropriate experts for each necessary task.