The law requires divorcing couples in the State of Washington to provide each other with detailed financial information about their income, expenses, debts, and liabilities. These disclosures determine how the couple’s property will be divided and whether one spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance (alimony) or child support payments.
Most spouses try to be honest and open with each other. Sometimes, however, one spouse tries to hide financial information. Even when no one is hiding anything, there are situations where the superficial numbers require further exploration. If so, you may need a forensic accountant.
What Is a Forensic Accountant?
Forensic accountants use investigative and analytical skills to resolve complex financial issues. A forensic accountant can conduct a lifestyle or cash flow analysis to flesh out a more detailed picture of your financial situation as a couple in the years leading up to your divorce. They can also play a role in the valuation of businesses and other assets and help settle disputes regarding community vs. separate property. The accountant will analyze the financial information in your disclosures and may request more information.
Do I Need a Forensic Accountant?
Family law attorneys know how to spot red flags that may indicate the need for forensic analysis. Potential red flags include situations where:
- One or both spouses own unusual or high-value assets.
- One or both spouses are self-employed, own a business, or have interests in several businesses.
- One or both spouses have multiple streams of income (e.g., employment, business, rental, trust, and royalty payments).
- One spouse is in the dark about the other’s income.
- One spouse does not have access to all the marital financial information because the other has maintained control.
- One spouse came into the marriage with significantly more wealth than the other.
- There are signs (or even a deep suspicion) that one spouse may be trying to hide income or assets.
If your attorney believes a forensic accountant is necessary for your Washington divorce or separation, they will let you know. They will also help you find someone with the right credentials. If you have questions about forensic accounting and divorce, please contact us for answers.