The following post was contributed by guest author Grant Webb, an accounting and accounting law writer for Bisk Education and Villanova University.
Forensic Accountants Fill a Unique Niche
Family law and divorce cases are often quite complex. Depending on the number of family members involved, the amount of assets at stake, and the specific circumstances of the case, even the most experienced attorney might need to acquire additional expertise to achieve the best results for the client. In cases where assets may have been hidden, misrepresented, under-valued or mysteriously liquidated, an experienced forensic accountant may provide the expertise necessary to uncover the facts needed so that the case can move forward in an effective manner.
While an attorney secures a skill set that allows him or her to build a case and argue effectively on behalf of a client, an attorney’s skills are not designed to address the intricacies mastered by forensic accountants. A forensic accountant’s specialized training and highly developed analytical skills target asset documentation and manipulation. Therefore, a forensic accountant can augment even the best attorney’s cases by providing an added layer of investigation, documentation, and reporting of related facts that may serve to significantly strengthen a client’s case. A Certified Forensic Accountant has completed a course of study that includes an in depth CPA review, work experience in forensic accounting, and training related to litigation and the judicial system which complements the other skills for specific applications such as in divorce proceedings.
Attorneys and Forensic Accountants Working Together
With the increase in sophisticated technology over the past decade also comes the dawn of more sophisticated investigative power tools. At the same time, people who intend on hiding assets have also become stealthier. When a marriage with significant assets needs to be evaluated for net worth, the assets are often spread across many different areas. Property, businesses, savings accounts, mutual funds, municipal bonds, antiques, jewelry, and recreation items like watercrafts for example are all items that need to be documented and valued. Anticipating the divorce or other family litigation, one of the involved parties may begin to re-title items, sell off or give away valuable possessions to a close friend or relative for later retrieval, and in general hide investments. While the family or divorce attorney is building the case with a general understanding of these facts and other related details, a forensic accountant can usually retrieve highly detailed evidence to make the case stronger. Drawing connections to see the whole picture is a forensic accountant’s fortè. Working together with a family or divorce attorney, a forensic accountant presents a formidable partner on a legal team where financial wrong-doing is an important topic of the investigation.
Savvy Clients Keep the Options Open
A complex case requires the expert knowledge of professionals who can secure the best possible outcome for a client. Hiring an attorney who is accustomed to bringing in and working effectively with other expert professionals such as a forensic accountant could mean a more favorable outcome. While cost is always a concern when pursuing legal solutions to disputes, many settlements or court decisions will have long-lasting effects on family members so it is important to be as effective and thorough a possible as the case proceeds. A Certified Forensic Accountant offers a unique skill set to the legal professional and can help provide the experience necessary to help secure critical financial evidence. When choosing a family or divorce attorney to help resolve a complicated dispute, savvy clients make sure that they can keep the option open to bring in other experts, like a forensic accountant or CPA, in order to secure the best outcome possible despite stressful circumstances. There are countless justifications for hiring legal representation of this type but for clients that may not know the upside to hiring a forensic accountant or even know how to hire the right CPA, it's always a good practice to interview or even research these industry professionals to determine the best hire or fit for a client’s needs.