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The use of forensic accountants in high-asset divorces

There has been an increase in the use of forensic accountants, particularly among very wealthy people. While Illinois business owners often employ them if they feel that something is amiss with the company’s financial picture, many wealthy couples use them to review marital assets during divorce proceedings and determine exactly what they are worth. High-asset couples ordinarily have several types of investments, and they might find that it is difficult to determine asset values without help.

Very wealthy married couples often have trouble determining which marital assets belong to each other and how much they are worth. Some of these assets may include businesses, business partnerships, investment portfolios and collectables.

Determining the value of assets that are held in partnerships or trusts or that are located in multiple jurisdictions is sometimes complicated. Skilled accountants can often place a value on deferred compensation agreements, life insurance policies and retirement benefits. Compounding the trouble are spouses who try to hide marital assets, which can become especially complicated when private businesses are involved.

Determining the true income of some spouses can be difficult when they deliberately engineer lower incomes. Spouses can show that they earn less than they actually do by being paid under the table and faking debt to pad their payroll. Forensic accountants review the numbers, compare tax returns, and analyze investment portfolios and bank balances in order to find out how much the spouses are really earning.

There is usually a lot of money at stake for wealthy spouses who are divorcing. They may need a highly trained team of professionals to help them achieve a fair and equitable divorce settlement. Each spouse’s team will usually be led by a separately-retained family law attorney.