Law Office of Vincent C. Machroli, P.C.
High Point Plaza, 4415 West Harrison Street, Suite 213, Hillside, IL 60162
High Point Plaza, 4415 West Harrison Street, Suite 213
Hillside, IL 60162



What Role Can a Forensic Accountant Play in a High Asset Divorce?

 Posted on February 12, 2024 in Divorce

Blog ImageFor couples that have a high net worth, the divorce process can get complicated. When a couple owns many different types of assets, determining the value of those assets, identifying whether assets are marital property or non-marital property, and making decisions about how assets should be divided, can be difficult. In these situations, a forensic accountant can play a vital role in ensuring that financial subjects will be addressed correctly. An attorney with experience in high-asset divorce cases can work alongside a forensic accountant and provide skilled representation during legal proceedings, advocating for their client’s rights and protecting their financial interests.

What Is a Forensic Accountant?

A forensic accountant is a professional who can investigate financial matters related to legal disputes. They can examine financial records, identify hidden or undervalued assets, trace sources of income and expenses, perform business valuations, and provide expert testimony, if necessary.

Gathering Financial Evidence

In a high-asset divorce case, an accurate valuation of assets is crucial to ensure that a fair settlement can be reached. A forensic accountant can assist by gathering all relevant financial evidence from both spouses. This may include tax returns, bank statements, investment portfolios, real estate documents, business records, and any other documentation that provides insight into each party's financial situation.

The forensic accountant will carefully analyze these documents to determine the value of various assets, such as real estate properties, business interests, retirement accounts, and investments. They will also evaluate any debts or liabilities held by either spouse.

Identifying Marital Property and Separate Property

Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state when it comes to dividing marital property, so marital assets that were acquired during a couple’s marriage need to be divided fairly between divorcing spouses. Separate, non-marital property that was owned by either spouse before the marriage, or acquired through gifts or inheritances during the marriage, will usually remain with its initial owner. Therefore, proper identification, classification and valuation of assets is essential for achieving an equitable outcome.

A forensic accountant can help classify assets as either marital property or separate property. This can be a complex process, especially in cases where marital and non-marital assets have become commingled over time. The forensic accountant will scrutinize financial records to determine the origin of each asset, ensuring that only marital property will be subject to division during the divorce proceedings.

Uncovering Hidden Assets

In high-asset divorces, there is a higher likelihood of one spouse attempting to hide or undervalue assets in order to skew the distribution of property in their favor. A forensic accountant can help uncover hidden assets and ensure that they are evaluated properly. They may use various techniques, including lifestyle analysis, cash-flow analysis, and examination of business records to identify any discrepancies or inconsistencies that could indicate the presence of hidden assets. In some cases, they may also work with other professionals, such as private investigators and/ or digital forensics experts, to gather evidence.

Business Valuations

If one or both spouses own a business, determining the value of business assets is crucial for ensuring a fair division of marital property. Forensic accountants have the skills and knowledge needed to conduct thorough business valuations by analyzing financial statements, assessing market conditions, considering industry benchmarks, and evaluating goodwill, among other factors that may influence the present and future value of a business.

Expert Testimony

In high net worth divorces involving disputes over issues such as asset valuation or allegations of hidden assets, litigation may be necessary. During a divorce trial, a forensic accountant can serve as an expert witness and provide independent professional opinions based on their findings. A forensic accountant's reports and testimony are often considered to be highly credible due to their knowledge and experience in financial analysis. Their testimony can significantly impact the outcome of a divorce trial.

Contact Our Oak Park High Net Worth Divorce Attorney

In high-asset divorces, the involvement of a forensic accountant can be crucial to ensure that property will be divided fairly, and that other financial subjects can be addressed correctly. If you are going through a high net worth divorce and require assistance with complex financial matters, Law Office of Vincent C. Machroli, P.C. can work with a forensic accountant to make sure your financial interests will be protected. Contact our Hillside high-asset divorce lawyer at 708-449-7404 to set up a free consultation today.

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