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What Is Forensic Accounting?

By Nottage and Ward on October 14, 2019

Forensic accounting may be defined as the use of accounting skills to investigate fraud or embezzlement, or to analyze financial information for use in legal proceedings. In divorce proceedings, forensic accounting can help uncover essential data and provide critical documentation to support your case.

Our Chicago family law attorneys at Nottage and Ward, LLP, use forensic accounting to better represent you in issues such as allocation of parental responsibilities, spousal maintenance, and division of assets. Contact us at (312) 332-2915 for experienced and effective representation in your divorce.

What Does a Forensic Accountant Investigate in a Divorce?

There is no one-size-fits-all divorce. Generally speaking, forensic accounting for both business and personal accounts can reveal financial information about a soon-to-be-ex-spouse. Documentation a forensic accountant reviews may include:

  • Financial statements
  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Tax returns
  • Sales invoices
  • Business contracts
  • Financial projections
  • Mortgage applications
  • Canceled checks

How Can Forensic Accounting Help with Your Divorce?

Depending on your unique circumstances, forensic accounting can be used in a variety of situations, including:

  • Searching for hidden income or assets: This may involve searching for hidden property and hidden bank accounts, including off-shore accounts. Forensic accounting may uncover assets your spouse has that you are not aware of, or even assets your spouse has forgotten, with no malicious intent. One way to search for hidden property is to look for utility bills paid from your spouse’s account for an address that is unfamiliar to you.
  • Searching for inconsistencies in financial information and corroborating financial data with non-financial information.
  • Performing business valuations.
  • Determining and quantifying personal expenses accounted for as business expenses that could impact the valuation of a business.
  • Performing tracing to establish the separate or community nature of a property.
  • Assisting your attorney in gathering information and preparing document requests, interrogatories, and deposition and trial questions.
  • Reviewing forensic accounting from the other party in a divorce.
  • Providing input on the tax consequences of proposed actions during the settlement process.
  • Testifying at depositions or in court.

What You Can Do to Aid Forensic Accounting in Your Divorce

Although you may not be a financial expert, you can undoubtedly provide information that will help with forensic accounting investigations in your divorce. You may have information about sources and uses of your spouse’s funds, or a business owned or co-owned by your spouse, as well as some knowledge of records and documents and the media in which they are maintained. You may know something about your spouse’s habits, relationships, travel habits, and attitude toward taking risks, all of which can be useful in forensic accounting.

Any small piece of information may be helpful in forensic accounting to prepare for divorce. If you are unsure, it is better to err on the side of providing too much information. The more you stay engaged, the more your input can assist forensic accounting and benefit the process, to help you obtain an equitable divorce.

Get Help from Respected Chicago Divorce Lawyers

At Nottage and Ward, LLP, we have extensive experience handling high-end divorce cases and negotiating, litigating, and resolving complex financial and custody issues. Our Chicago property division attorneys have been practicing family law exclusively for more than 30 years. Call us today for dedicated legal representation if you are facing divorce.

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