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Can forensic accounting resolve property division disputes?

A divorce is about more than just money. Even if children aren’t involved, a divorcing spouse will have to prepare for many changes after a divorce. Lifestyle factors that might be impacted include budgeting, social circles, and one’s living environment and daily routine.

Nevertheless, money and property division issues do play an important role in a divorce. Although it may be tempting to focus on other emotional aspects, a recent article reminds us that inattention to money matters could result in several common mistakes.

For starters, an attorney that focuses on family law matters, including divorce, might recommend a forensic accounting of the marital estate. Although having an accountant investigate for hidden assets may sound like an extreme step, the truth is that many couples don’t play an equal role in handling their finances. Even if a couple has a joint bank account, chances are that one spouse is more actively involved in matters of savings, investments and retirement accounts. That same spouse may also have a clearer picture of the marital debts and other joint expenses. 

With the help of an attorney and other professionals, a spouse can have greater confidence in the inventory of assets comprising the marital estate. That big picture, in turn, will inform matters of property division, including who may be awarded certain real or personal property and/or whether spousal support should be pursued. If a spouse attempts to mischaracterize assets as not part of the marital estate, an attorney can provide strong advocacy to ensure that all property and assets purchased during the marriage are included and divided fairly. 

Source: CBS News, “6 money mistakes to avoid in a divorce,” Gerri Detweiler, Jan. 21, 2015

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